Three-time Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls champion Ellen Falkner has played on some of the world’s best greens and the English Bowls star is now setting her sights firmly on taking on the Australian’s in their own back yard at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“I’ve been very fortunate and privileged to be represent Team England at four different commonwealth Games and have very different memories from all of them.” said Falkner, who made her international debut at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
“Manchester was my debut on the world stage and I didn’t really know what to expect, how I would perform or how to deal with that kind of pressure. For me, that was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and realised that playing at this level was something I am capable of and it helped me to believe in myself.”
However, the 36 year old didn’t achieve similar success in 2006 during the Games in Melbourne, an experience she nonetheless values as a key part of her career.
“Melbourne in 2006 was my first time playing in the singles event and I didn’t perform as well, but being out in Australia was a wonderful experience and the Australians put on a great show. It was a real learning curve and I really learnt a lot about myself as an individual and a player. It was like being kicked in the stomach when I lost but whilst it was devastating at the time, the result of that experience has really helped me progress.”
And now, she seeks revenge on Australian soil.
“I am as hungry as ever and very much still aspire to play at the Gold Coast, at my fifth Games, and would love to head back to Australia and add to my tally.
“It would be nice to leave the Gold Coast with a different taste in my mouth after the heartbreak in Melbourne. I love the greens out there, it’s a beautiful part of the world and I would love to be able to play out there.”
It’s no secret that England and Australia share some of the fiercest global sporting rivalries and despite Lawn Bowls carrying a friendly reputation, the rivalry is ever present on the greens.
“We are quite a nice friendly sport but at the end of the day everybody is out there to beat each other. I have some very good friends in the Australian side and there is the upmost respect but when you put on your England shirt you are there giving 100% for your country.
“I am looking forward to taking the Aussies on, on their own turf as they have some of the best surfaces in the world. In Glasgow it was a dream come true against the Aussies and our game plan proved to be extremely effective; we dominated from the start and put on a commanding performance. However, for them it is a different style of play out there, different tactics and greens so they will have those benefits in 2018 that we need to be prepared for.”