Josh’s quest for a Commonwealth Games berth takes shape
Back for more, there is no stopping the Australian Open dual-title holder Josh Thornton from competing in anything and everything Lawn Bowls, at the world’s largest festival of bowls. Back for more, there is no stopping the Australian Open dual-title holder Josh Thornton from competing in anything and everything Lawn Bowls, at the World’s Biggest Bowls Festival.
With the Bowlers with a Disability (BWD) events commencing tomorrow, all eyes are on Thornton who has returned to defend his golden double, the BWD Physical Disability singles and BWD Multi Disability pairs titles, with pairs partner James Reynolds.
“I’m looking forward to it more than anything, it’s going to be hard, and everyone’s probably going to try to beat the person who won it last year I guess,” said Thornton.
“I’m going to have play well to be able to do it.”
“Being back at playing at the Open events so far, it’s put me in some good practice leading into it (BWD events).”
Having already commenced his 2016 Australian Open campaign successfully, the East Shepparton bowler has qualified for both the Men’s Pairs Knockouts with Jerome Coles, and Men’s Fours Quarter Finals with Coles, Wayne Wilson and Barrie Lester.
“I don’t see my disability as affecting me, I can go out and compete against able-bodied bowlers,” said Thornton.
“If I don’t do well, it’s good practise before I play in the disability events, and if I do well, it’s a bonus.”
Returning to the Gold Coast greens for a second year, Thornton has nothing but praise for the south-east Queensland clubs, rightly known as the Australian hub of bowls.
“I love the greens up here, I lived here about seven or eight years ago and it’s the best place to play bowls in the world as far as I’m concerned,” said Thornton.
“I really love getting back up here and having a game.”
With less than two years until the Commonwealth Games, the Broadbeach greens will welcome some of the best lawn bowlers in the world to compete, including a large number of para-athletes.
This year, the Minister for Transport and the Commonwealth Games, Stirling Hinchliffe announced the largest para-sport program in Commonwealth Games history.
“We will be setting a new record in Commonwealth Games sporting history hosting up to 300 para-sport athletes and 38 medal events across seven sports, which is an increase of 45 per cent more athletes and 73 per cent more medals compared to the para-sport competition staged at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games,” said Mr. Hinchliffe.
Thornton sees the prestige of participating in the Commonwealth Games as one of his greatest ambitions for his bowls career.
“Obviously, that’s my last goal I reckon in bowls, to tick that one off,” said Thornton.
“If I could do that in a couple of years’ time, playing on greens that I love playing on, it would be a dream come true.”
With eight BWD events at the 2016 Australian Open, Lawn Bowls has a celebrated history of being an inclusive sport for people of any age, experience and ability.
“As a sport, and in my job working for Bowls Australia, I pride myself on our sport being the most inclusive out there,” said Thornton.
“If we’ve got disability events that obviously caters for all, it’s a really good image for our sport I believe.”
Not only a lawn bowler, Thornton’s passion for the sport translates into his position as a Regional Manager for Bowls Australia, where his focus is on developing the sport from the grassroots end.
“My role entails going out to clubs every day, obviously looking after them, trying to help membership promotion, administration, obviously given clubs generally in my area are volunteer run, give them a hand, point them in the right direction and help them grow the sport,” said Thornton.
“If we don’t grow the sport, there won’t be events like this down the track potentially, so we want to be doing the best we can to get more people playing the sport.”
The BWD Singles commence on Monday the 20th, at Helensvale, Southport and Musgrave Hill.
The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will be staged from the 4 – 15 April 2018.