August 20, 2018

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New generation of lawn bowlers ready to strike

Upcoming championship will showcase sport's brightest stars

Rob Law has travelled as far as Australia to compete in lawn bowling tournaments. Next week, he will have the chance to show off his skills in his home city. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)</p></p>

Rob Law has travelled as far as Australia to compete in lawn bowling tournaments. Next week, he will have the chance to show off his skills in his home city. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

If you think lawn bowling is just a game for seniors, guess again.

The St. James Lawn Bowling Club in Winnipeg is hosting the Canadian Youth Championships Aug. 14 to 18, with the event featuring more than 40 young lawn bowlers from across the country.

Rob Law, a 20-year-old Winnipeg native who’s competing next week, said the sport may be more popular with senior citizens, but if more people gave it a shot, they would realize it’s enjoyable for people of all ages.

“There are definitely a lot of surprised looks and confusion,” said Law on people’s reactions to him being a lawn bowler. “A lot of people don’t know what the sport is, unfortunately. They either say, ‘Why aren’t you 70?’, or ‘What is lawn bowling?’. Generally, there is a lot of surprised faces, but people now know me as the lawn bowler, so there aren’t as many surprised reactions anymore.”

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If you think lawn bowling is just a game for seniors, guess again.

The St. James Lawn Bowling Club in Winnipeg is hosting the Canadian Youth Championships Aug. 14 to 18, with the event featuring more than 40 young lawn bowlers from across the country.

Winnipegger Rob Law will compete at the lawn bowling Canadian Youth Championships next week at the St. James Lawn Bowling Club. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Winnipegger Rob Law will compete at the lawn bowling Canadian Youth Championships next week at the St. James Lawn Bowling Club. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

Rob Law, a 20-year-old Winnipeg native who’s competing next week, said the sport may be more popular with senior citizens, but if more people gave it a shot, they would realize it’s enjoyable for people of all ages.

"There are definitely a lot of surprised looks and confusion," said Law on people’s reactions to him being a lawn bowler. "A lot of people don’t know what the sport is, unfortunately. They either say, ‘Why aren’t you 70?’, or ‘What is lawn bowling?’. Generally, there is a lot of surprised faces, but people now know me as the lawn bowler, so there aren’t as many surprised reactions anymore."

Law is known as "the lawn bowler" for a reason, as he’s been travelling the country for national events since he was 12 and has numerous top-three finishes on his resumé. He’s also been to Australia twice for the World Youth Championships and was a member of the Canadian development team last season. Law’s lawn bowling journey began through his grandma, Betty Grundy, who introduced him to the sport when he was 10.

"He took to it like a duck takes to water," said Grundy, who has also competed at the national level over the years. "It’s been a real thrill for me. I went with him the first time (to Australia) and it was really exciting to watch him play against kids all across the world. It was just excellent."

Law said the sport has allowed him to do a lot of travelling and make many lifelong friends throughout the country. But despite his positive experiences playing the game, Law and the rest of the lawn bowling community have a tough time getting more young people to try the game.

When they do give it a chance, most don’t regret it, he said.

"They all seem to love it and most of them ask when they can come back and play another tournament," said Law. "I think when people try it and get over the stereotype of it, they really enjoy it."

Law has to get creative to play the sport all throughout the year to stay on his game, as he has to roll out a carpet at the Dakota Lawn Bowling Centre in the winter to work on his craft. He also works on his conditioning throughout the year, as games can last around three hours. When you’re playing in a place such as Australia and there’s no shade, you have to be in good shape, he said.

But next week, there’s no need for a day-long flight to Australia, as Law — as well as two other Manitobans — will be playing at home. Law said it’s an exciting opportunity to play in Winnipeg but admited it adds some pressure.

"Playing at home, I have a little more trouble with it, there’s definitely more pressure," said Law, who will be graduating from the University of Manitoba next year with a degree in accounting and finance. "You really want to perform well in your hometown. It’s going to be a pretty tough competition, there’s going to be guys that I’ve played Team Canada with."

In the short term, he’s focused on a strong showing next week. In the long term, Law wants to continue to represent Canada at events around the world, but at an even higher level.

"It’s always been a long-time goal of mine to play in the Commonwealth Games. We just had one come up and I was passed on the selection for that one, but coming up is another four-year cycle," said Law.

"There’s the World Bowls in two years and Commonwealth Games in four, so those are my goals. I’ve always wanted to play in them, so hopefully they come to fruition soon."

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @TaylorAllen31

 

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