Karen Murphy opens up about her decision to retire from international bowls

DECADES OF SUCCESS: Shoalhaven Heads product Karen Murphy in action for the green and gold. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA
DECADES OF SUCCESS: Shoalhaven Heads product Karen Murphy in action for the green and gold. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA

IN terms of lawn bowls in Australia, few, if any, can rival what Shoalhaven Heads product Karen Murphy has achieved on the greens.

So it came as a shock when the 44-year-old decided to call time on her international career, effective at the end of the 2019 season.

"My first thoughts of retirement came after the 2018 Commonwealth Games," Murphy said.

"The end of that event, coincided with mum being sick, saw me take six months away from the sport. I thoroughly enjoyed my time away and came back determined to succeed again. But after that taste of life without bowls, as well as losing a little bit of drive, I decided it was time to try something different."

The first person the Bomaderry High School alumna told was Jackaroos coach Steve Glasson, before announcing it at the Bowls Australia's 2019 Hall of Fame and Awards Night.

"It was really important that I went out on my own terms," she said.

"Everything has to come to an end and I've been hugely fortunate to have represented my country for the past 23 years.To finish with two international tournaments on home soil seemed like a really fitting way to end my Jackaroos career."

Those two tournaments are the 2019 Multi-Nations and World Bowls Challenge, both in November.

"Both the Multi-Nations and World Bowls Challenge, which will see us take on the top bowlers from all around the globe, are really exciting events," she said.

"I'm going to make the most of the next few weeks, especially being able to play in front of all my friends and family. All the Jackaroos girls have already said they plan to send me out a winner, which would an amazing way to end my career."

Although Murphy, who is already the most capped Jackaroo in history (646), looks back on her career, which includes a Commonwealth Games gold medal and four world championship gold medals, is over the moon with what she's achieved on the greens, it's not what she considers her greatest achievement.

"The thing I'm most proud of is the legacy I'm leaving behind," she said.

"I came into the sport as an 11-year-old when lawn bowls wasn't cool and not many young people played, but now there are countless girls playing our sport. Women's bowls in Australia has never been in a healthier spot, with us being world number one for the past 11 years ... I'm leaving the sport in great hands."

Although Murphy, who's been blown away with the messages of support since her announcement, will be finishing up in the green and gold, she will still play for the Sydney Lions in the BPL, NSW and Cabramatta.

Murphy will also commentate matches, run clinics and work as co-chair with para-swimmer and OAM Matt Levy as the co-chair of Commonwealth Games Australia's athlete advisory group.