Australian Open more than just a bowls tournament, says Over 60s champ

by admin

For 2017 Australian Open (AO) pairs champion Ian Warner, the event has become somewhat of a ritual. For 2017 Australian Open (AO) pairs champion Ian Warner, the event has become somewhat of a ritual. 

Having competed in multiple AOs since the days the event was staged at Darebin in Melbourne, Warner positions the event now held at the Gold Coast as a mid-year holiday, with the added bonus of a prestigious bowls tournament. 

“I live in Ballarat and a few of the bowlers in the area know that I won it (Over 60s pairs) last year. They have asked me what it is like and there’s a few, that if they get the chance to holiday up on the Gold Coast, will be interested in entering,” he said. 

“It’s now turned into an annual holiday. We’ll go up for four to six weeks over that period of time.

“Gives me a chance to get in a bit of practice before the AO starts and then compete.”

Last year, Warner partnered with Queensland-based Peter Leon having arranged to play via a third-party. 

Leon was in some doubt to contest the tournament with a scheduled ankle operation but ended up available to play and so linked up with Warner, literally for the first time.  

“That was the first time I’d met him,” Warner said. 

“I haven’t contacted him yet [for this year]. I better ring him up and make sure we’re right to go again!”

Warner says the Over 60s discipline is becoming increasingly competitive and larger in stature, with the calibre of bowler participating a major attraction along with the holiday component of the Gold Coast.

“I always played the Australian Open events when it was held in Victoria and now on the Gold Coast.vIf anything it’s gotten bigger,” he said. 

“When I first played the Over 60s four or five years ago there was no qualifying for it because the number of entries wasn’t that big at all.

“In Queensland, there are far more entries and you’ve got a lot of previous top players and ex-state and national champions still playing. They can still play!”

After moving to the Gold Coast in 2015, the AO has become a true festival of bowls, with 14 days of action played across the 15 host clubs in the region between June 9 and 22. 

Over 2,000 bowlers from across Australia, and indeed the world are expected to attend again, with entry being completely open to any registered bowler!

Not only is the AO the World’s Biggest Bowls Festival, it is also the richest bowls event in the world with a staggering total of over $250,000 prize money across more than 780 prize money placings in the 16 disciplines.

Bowlers can enter any one of the open disciplines on offer (singles, pairs and fours) or enter age-specific Under-18, Over-60s or Bowlers with a Disability events – for a full breakdown of the disciplines head to!

Click here to enter in the 2018 AO! Entries close April 15
Image – Ian Warner (middle) and Peter Leon (right) following their 2017 AO triumph