Devon’s bowlers add to medal haul at Commonwealth Games

Devon’s bowlers added four more medals to their tally, to take their total Commonwealth haul at the Games to nine.

Sophie Tolchard claimed silver in the women’s pairs, while brother Sam, Louis Ridout, and Jamie Chestney won bronze in the men’s fours.

It wraps up a successful Games for England’s bowlers, where they have been roared on by a loud home crowd at Victoria Park, Leamington Spa.

Tolchard, along with partner Amy Pharaoh, was edged out in an enthralling gold medal match in women’s pairs, with the game being decided in an extra end.

Pharaoh had delivered a perfect bowl in the 18th end to level the scores at 18-18, before Australia’s Ellen Ryan responded with an audacious final bowl to clinch the extra end, and gold, for her country.

“It was a really intense environment, it was a quality game,” said Tolchard.

“They turned it around, we got it back. That’s all that you can ask for, we certainly gave the crowd plenty to cheer for, but unfortunately just couldn’t get it over the line on the last end.

We lost the toss of the ends which meant we didn’t have the last bowl, we did all we could do and unfortunately it just wasn’t quite meant to be.

“It shows how small the margins are between winning and losing.”

Later on Saturday, Kings Bowling Club trio Tolchard, Ridout, and Chestney came through a testy affair with Wales in the men’s fours to take bronze.

Alongside Nick Brett, the three Devonians established an early 11-4 lead and never let go to bounce back from the disappointment of a narrow, final end, defeat to India in the semi-final.

“I was gutted, I still am gutted,” said Tolchard, who also claimed silver in the men’s pairs with fellow Kings player Jamie Walker. “I didn’t want to go out and play today, but you have to.

“It’s easy in a bronze medal match to go through the motions but as Jamie said, a few things happened in the game that got us riled up and suddenly it meant a lot more to us.

“We didn’t want to lose that game.”

It marked England’s final match at the Games, which has seen a renewed interest in bowls from the wider public.

And Ridout, who also won gold in the men’s triples with Brett and Chestney, hopes it is the start of more people giving the sport a go.

“Hopefully everyone has been enjoying it and the coverage has been good,” said Ridout.

“That’s what we want people to do, just give it a go and encourage as many people as possible, all ages, all abilities, go out and give it a go.”

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