COMMONWEALTH Games gold-medal-winning bowler Paul Foster says he has two priorities for the next year.
His first is to be named in January in national coach David Gourlay’s five-man Scotland squad for Glasgow 2014. The second – assuming he achieves the first – is to become intimately acquainted with the newly-laid outdoor green at Kelvingrove in Glasgow when it reopens in April, the site of what Foster calls “the most important bowls competition of my lifetime”.
“It’s almost unthinkable that the Commonwealth Games will be so close, and that I might get a chance to compete in front of a home crowd,” he says. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Although he suggests otherwise, it is virtually inconceivable that Foster, a four-times world champion, will not be part of the Scotland squad. The question is what role he will play. Will he take the blue riband and be the solitary male singles player, or will find himself in the pairs, as he was when he won Commonwealth gold in Melbourne in 2006? Or perhaps he will find himself playing in the other two categories, the triples or the four? At least this time, for the first time at the Commonwealth Games, each player is allowed to be selected in two categories.
There are two main tournaments between now and January. Next week’s national championships in Ayr and August’s Eight Nations competition at Kelvingrove, featuring teams from strong Commonwealth bowls nations such as Canada, Malaysia, England, Australia and New Zealand. To be eligible for Games selection, all Scottish bowlers will have to win two Eight Nations games.
Foster’s main rival is another multiple world championship winner and two-times Commonwealth competitor, Tranent’s Alex Marshall. The two men made up the victorious Scotland pairs team in 2006 and are firm friends but there can only be one singles player representing Scotland, and Foster is quietly determined that it will be him.