GETTING the better of the Australians on their own turf and winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal at his first time of asking was supposed to be the highlight of a career that has lavished an abundance of trophies, titles and an MBE on Paul Foster. However, the 41-year-old has been forced to reassess things.
It is just over 100 days until the Glasgow Commonwealth Games get under way and, from April onwards, Scotland’s lawn bowlers will have access to the greens where their podium dreams will live or die. The squad was announced last week and Foster can now talk freely about his targets for the summer.
He said: “My very first Commonwealth Games were in Melbourne and I got a gold medal in the pairs with Alex Marshall and I said then that nothing could ever beat that but, I’m sorry, getting a gold here would. Glasgow is the pinnacle of my career and, if I could come home with a medal, I would be happy to retire.”
Foster insists his target is always a medal and, given his pedigree, that usually means the gold. After Melbourne in 2006, where Foster and his long-time friend Marshall denied the home nation a clean sweep of the men’s lawn bowls golds, relegating them to the third tier of the podium and beating the auld enemy in the final of the pairs, Foster was selected to represent Scotland in the singles in Delhi in 2010. That time he returned without a bauble but, in front of his home crowd and with each team member contesting two disciplines, he is confident he will have more to show for his efforts this summer.
Named in the men’s team, along with Marshall, current world indoor champion Darren Burnett, David Peacock and Neil Spiers, they will all be involved in two of the four events. But they are playing it coy when it comes to exactly who will line up in the singles, pairs, triples and fours.
“We know what positions we will play but, as the head coach explained, for tactical reasons, we won’t be divulging that information just now and rightly so because other countries are doing the same. We know as a group that it doesn’t matter which positions we are in, we know our abilities and we know what we can do and we all believe we can perform well and so I’m targeting two medals,” said Foster.
The fact that Foster and Marshall have dominated the world pairs events in recent times means that the Scots have a ready-made medal-winning combination but the taxi proprietor from Troon is unwilling to give anything away.
Foster said: “I have a poker face and I’m not going to say where I’m playing. A lot of nations are guessing where people are going to play and we are happy to let them guess. Yes, Alex and I have been very successful, winning indoor world championships and outdoor world championships, and we bounce off each other and he knows my game inside out and I know his game inside out but we will see what happens. We are a good team. I firmly believe that a team has got to get on well together.”
A month ago Foster did worry that he may not get the chance to be part of the Games. A health scare had him imagining worse-case scenarios but he has been given the all clear and is now fully focused. He added: “It was something personal but it is all sorted out now and I’m on the mend and feeling 100 per cent. It is good to be back because it was a worrying time. Looking back it was silly the way I was thinking and I’m positive about things now. I’m raring to go.
“I’m now back on the mend and I feel better in myself and I have actually lost half a stone. I go out walking a lot now and I have a bike and I go to the gym and I watch what I’m eating so, within myself, I am well prepared body wise.”
Mentally and physically Foster is primed and now wants to make the most of the home advantage and get as much time on the Kelvingrove greens as possible, with his wife Pamela already well warned that he will be spending most weekends between now and the Games on site.
“She understands, she knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and she wants me to grab it with both hands and do the best I can.”
The galleries will be packed with family and friends all hoping to share in the experience and will Foster to victory, with his sister-in-law even flying in from USA.
He added: “To me the only pressure is the pressure you put on yourself. I think it is very advantageous to be at a home Games and know that you will have the crowd behind you. I’ve been under pressure before but I thrive on it. I love pressure and at the end of the day I always go out to do the best I can.”