World Bowls Championships throwback: Top 10 moments (5-1)

by Lachlan Williams on December 19, 2023

As the year nears an end, we take a look back on the amazing spectacle of the 2023 World Bowls Championships, and rank some of the best moments of the biggest world champs to date.

Yesterday we revealed spots 10-6, now take a look at our top five moments from #WorldBowls2023.

5. History in women’s pairs final

Regardless of the outcome, the women’s pairs final would go down as a history making one as Malaysia faced off against Malta.

Malta walked away with silver, their first medal at a World Championships, while Malaysia took home gold, their first women’s World Championships gold, courtesy of Ain Nabilah Tarmizi and Aleena Nawawi.

The victory warmed the heart for all watching, with the entire Malaysian team celebrating the historic moment with great enthusiasm.

4. Tayla Bruce realises childhood dream

From a young girl idolising up and coming greats, Tayla Bruce became a great in her own right at #WorldBowls2023 when she took out her maiden World Bowls Championships gold in the singles.

Bruce was imperious in her singles campaign, riding high on her World Champion of Champions crown at the end of 2022 to have the confidence to take it up to the world’s best. And that she did.

Bruce took down reigning Commonwealth Games singles champion Ellen Ryan (Australia) in her semi final, before grinding out a hard-fought win over Canada’s Kelly McKerihen in the final to claim gold.

A photo of Bruce with a young Kelsey Cottrell (below) at the 2008 Christchurch tournament circulated on social media in the days following the win, with Bruce now a world champion just as Cottrell is.

Interestingly, Bruce and Cottrell will go head-to-head in the singles at February’s Trans Tasman event in New Zealand.

3. Most inclusive championships ever with Para introduction

In one of the biggest leaps forward for the sport, #WorldBowls2023 marked the first time para events played alongside open men’s and women’s competition.

Bowls of the highest calibre was on display throughout the para portion of the competition during the first week, placing a spotlight on the inclusive nature and opportunities bowls has to offer.

Three great finals, all of which either streamed or broadcast live, were well received and supported by bowls fans world-wide.

Australia led the way in the inaugural competitions, winning para men’s pairs and vision-impaired mixed pairs gold, with New Zealand taking out the women’s para pairs event.

2. Bester breaks singles hoodoo

For so many years Ryan Bester tried and tried, and was so close on so many occasions, but the major singles crown always evaded him. That was until September 10, 2023.

Bester put together and impressive singles campaign at #WorldBowls2023, advancing through to another final in front of an adoring Broadbeach crowd, at the club he calls home.

A Commonwealth Games or world championships singles crown had been within Bester’s reach on many occasions previously, with two world champs silver and one bronze, and two Comm Games silver and once bronze, but the script was flipped for 2023.

Bester was up against it, taking on a red-hot Gary Kelly (Ireland) in the final, trailing for much of the game but keeping within striking distance.

Years of heartache and learnings came to fruition, as the Canadian held his nerve to claim a gold that may have seemed perennially unattainable at one point.

1. Fairytale finish for Jackaroo #62 – Lynsey Clarke

The penultimate final of the championships was perhaps the most emotionally-charged of the two weeks of competition, as Australia and the world bid farewell to a bowls legend from the international arena.

The women’s triples final between Australia and New Zealand saw Lynsey Clarke don the green and gold as a player for the final time, and didn’t the Aussies come to play to give her the perfect sendoff.

Clarke, alongside teammates Dawn Hayman and Kelsey Cottrell were dominant in their bid for gold.

New Zealand competed gallantly but could not stop the fairytale from being finished in style, with Clarke chaired off the Broadbeach greens in iconic scenes.

That’s our top 10 for #WorldBowls2023! Stay tuned to the Bowls Australia social channels as we round out the year with some more amazing moments from this incredible event.

Top 10 of #WorldBowls2023

10. Records tumble at biggest World Champs to date

9. Gary Kelly’s arrives on the world stage

8. Love in the air on Rinkside Live

7. Aussie men domination

6. Andrew Kelly goes from Blackjack to All Black to lay big tackle

5. History in women’s pairs final

4. Tayla Bruce realises childhood dream

3. Most inclusive championships ever with Para introduction

2. Bester breaks singles hoodoo

1. Fairytale finish for Jackaroo #62 – Lynsey Clarke