Kerkow still inspiring Lawn Bowls history
He was part of the most successful lawn bowls team in Commonwealth Games history and now Kelvin Kerkow is preparing Australia’s next tilt at Games glory.
When he ripped off his shirt to celebrate his Commonwealth Games gold medal, Kerkow created one of the most iconic moments in lawn bowls history.
The wild celebrations put an emphatic exclamation point on the most successful Australian lawn bowls Commonwealth Games team ever, who claimed three gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the Melbourne 2006 Games.
In an epic contest against Wales’ Robert Weale in the gold medal match, Kerkow was down to his last bowl, with one final chance to keep himself in the tie-breaker. To keep his dream alive.
He held his nerve to draw the shot, but not before a tense measure was called.
The difference between winning and losing that night was mere millimeters.
A few minutes later, Kerkow was tearing his shirt off in celebration and was instantly mobbed by Australian teammates. He emerged from the euphoric scramble pumping his fist in the air before being lifted onto his teammates’ shoulders and chaired in front of a raucous home crowd.
It was more rock ‘n’ roll, than it was lawn bowls.
"I won the gold and the home crowd went nuts, emotions were running and I ripped the shirt off and away we went," Kerkow told GC2018.com.
"It was just sheer emotion and passion, it is the highlight of my career, I had won world titles and international events in the UK, but to win the Gold medal in Melbourne, it was amazing.
"Just the manner in which I won, playing in my home country, the atmosphere was unbelievable and I had put a lot of time and effort into it to achieve it."
The gold medal was no fluke, nothing was left to chance.
Kerkow had flown from the Gold Coast to Melbourne every week to train on the Games’ rinks in the months leading into the event. Getting every ounce of information he could extrapolate from the greens, the conditions, even the wind.
He’d often bowl under lights until the late hours, to recreate the exact conditions he’d be playing if he made the final.
"It was the best thing I’ve ever done," he said.
"We are talking millimetres being the difference, it makes the difference between gold and silver.
"Two millimetres was the difference between me getting gold or silver. If I lost that measure I get the silver medal.
"That’s how close it was and I don’t think I would have drawn that shot in the tie-breaker had I not flown down all the time to practice at night time.
"At night the green slows up, a bit of dew falls, there’s a bit of moisture on the green and it all makes a difference to how you bowl. Having that experience made the difference and won me the gold."
Eleven years on from that iconic celebration, Kerkow is now a national selector forr the Australian Jackaroos and he'll be hoping the team can perform just as well as he did all those years ago.
"The pressure is on in your own country," he said.
"All the players have to cope with that pressure, it isn’t going to be easy. Australia are one of the best countries in the world, but there are some teams gunning for us, you don’t want to be beat on your own turf."
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