Nov 7 2012 By Kenny Smith
Rutherglen’s bowling champion Mark Kelsey took his skills to a global stage when he competed in the World Bowls Singles championships in Paphos, Cyprus.
Former Stonelaw High pupil Mark (24), a member of Rutherglen Bowling Club, qualified after winning the Scottish outdoor championships in Ayr last summer to become the national champion.
In Cyprus, Mark came second in his section, making it through to the next round where he was beaten at the quarter-final stage by the eventual winner from Malaysia.
Mark said: “Before I went to the tournament if someone said to me I would get to the play-offs for the semi finals I would have definitely have taken it, but looking back I am well and truly gutted.
“The world title was there for the taking and I was so close, getting back to that stage of tournament will be extremely difficult.
“The tournament ran for six days and for at least four of these I was top of my section meaning a guaranteed at least bronze medal which would have been magnificent to bring home, but unfortunately, everything that could have gone wrong on the Friday - happened.
“Don’t get me wrong , I am proud of myself for getting so far and so close as it is the gents singles and not the under-25 competition. To represent the bowls nation of the world as their youngest ever champion was an honour in itself.”
Although disappointed, Mark turned in some excellent performances against his international rivals.
Mark said: “The Scottish advantage kicked in when it rained for a whole day-resulting in me winning three out of my three matches that day. I believe some of the participants hadn’t seen rain in months/years, so this could be a huge factor in Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
“The standard of opposition depended on the countries to be honest. For the likes of the home nations and the major southern hemisphere countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, these were of very high standard as these countries have a large amount of clubs.
“Every representative was their national champion so that cannot be taken away from them and they deserved their place in the tournament. Although some countries had one bowling club with 20-30 members, in other words if you win like four games and win your club championship, you qualify for the world championships.
“On the other hand in Scotland, you have to win your internal singles competition, then the district singles competition and then the national championships which is equivalent to winning at least 16 matches consecutively against club champions and not only club players.
“Perhaps this was a benefit to me as I had played at a more competitive level on a regular basis.”
Mark added: “The whole trip was an amazing experience, the accommodation, staff, volunteers and organisers of the tournament were all first class!
“There wasn’t a clubhouse as such because the greens were located at the hotel, so my changing room was pretty much my hotel room.
“To look at, the greens and surroundings were beautiful, with two magnificent hotels either side of the green - swimming pools visible too - and when playing in one direction you played directly towards the Mediterranean which was an experience in its own.
“The other direction towards the mountainous inland of the area.”
Mark was delighted with the backing he got from his family and from his club: “I would like to thank my parents for travelling all the way to Cyprus to support me, and to those who took time out of their holiday/retirement to view the bowls and support not only me but the whole tournament.”