She is one of Team England’s most decorated lawn bowlers, but for Ellen Falkner the thought of competing in the 2018 Commonwealth Games is even more exciting than it was in 2002.
The Manchester Games was Ellen’s first experience of a Commonwealth Games where she won the first of her three Commonwealth gold medals in the fours competition.
With a lifetime of memories already stored away, Ellen spoke to Team England about how her hunger for medals has only grown with time, ahead of her fifth Games.
She said: “I think your hunger and desire for medals increases with the more Games that you’re fortunate enough to have competed in.
“You crave the opportunity to play at the highest level and put on the England shirt.”
Part of that appeal stems from the special atmosphere of the Commonwealth Games, which Ellen describes as the most ‘exhilarating experience’ she’s ever had.
“It’s very difficult to articulate into words the feeling of playing in an event of that stature,” she said. “It’s a tremendous buzz of excitement and anticipation.”
“Standing shoulder to shoulder with teammates who all have the common goal of doing their best for England and the desire to bring medals home is tremendously unique.”
Ellen’s last Commonwealth gold medal came at the 2014 Glasgow Games where she won in the triples alongside Sophie Tolchard and Sian Gordon.
It was at Glasgow that Ellen experienced the full range of emotions associated with representing your country, which makes the Games so special.
She said: “Throughout all of the Games there have been ups and downs. One week in Glasgow we lost in the quarter-finals of the fours and the next week we were standing on a podium being handed gold medals and singing Jerusalem!
“The Games encapsulate everything that sport is about. The highs and lows, the friendships, and the camaraderie. It’s just a tremendous experience and one that everyone in lawn bowls wants to be a part of.
“For us, the Commonwealth Games is the only multi-sport event that we are a part of so it’s our equivalent of the Olympics. To win there is the greatest accolade.”
And while Ellen dreams of what would be her fifth Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast 2018, she has already been to Australia this year to play on the Gold Coast greens.
She said: “It was a fabulous venue and a great learning experience on a whole host of levels for the squad that went out.
“It was a big learning curve which will only help to inform those that go back to represent Team England in the Games.
“The preparation for the whole tournament looks fantastic. We drove past the athlete’s village which looks great.
“The greens were fantastic at the bowls venue and the facilities were world class.”