Houli­han’s ready to cope with the heat

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

Buy­ing a new set of bowls and tak­ing up biking put a sil­ver fern on his shirt, Pat Houla­han says. A sen­sa­tional win at the na­tional club bowl­ing cham­pi­onship in In­ver­cargill in April when he won the men’s sin­gles led to his se­lec­tion for the seventh Asia Pa­cific Merdeka Cham­pi­onships in Malaysia, in which 22 coun­tries will take part from Oc­to­ber 1 to 6. Fiercely loyal to Alexan­dra Bowl­ing Club, which gave him his start 28 years ago, Houla­han also gives his two daugh­ters Kate and Jes­sica some of the credit for his suc­cess, for putting him on a bike about 18 months ago. ‘‘When we went on hol­i­day to see the girls in Port Dou­glas, they con­vinced me to get on a bike, set­ting up a 90km chal­lenge, which I man­aged to achieve, plus two days of heat stroke.’’ In Queens­land’s 30deg Cel­sius heat and 85 per cent hu­mid­ity, the 54-year-old busi­ness­man’s highly com­pet­i­tive streak was def­i­nitely tweaked, and he has be­came nearly as hooked on biking as he is on bowls. “I’ve prob­a­bly biked about 7000km since then and the im­proved fit­ness has re­ally helped my bowls. I can stay out there on the green all day and keep up my con­cen­tra­tion.” Gone are the days when bowls was a game just for re­tired peo­ple, Houla­han said. He com­peted against a 25-year-old when he won his na­tional ti­tle, and reck­ons it was his newly im­proved fit­ness that got him through when he was 3-16 down, fight­ing back to win 25-24. Hav­ing his bowls stolen from his car in Auck­land at Christ­mas last year turned out to be a bless­ing in dis­guise, forc­ing him to buy new ones, a spe­cially de­signed set of dream­line XGs. He’s hop­ing the new bowls and fit­ness will stand him in good stead in Malaysia, but is ex­pect­ing the greens to be a lot slower, which means his de­liv­ery will need to be much more force­ful than on New Zealand’s hard and fast turf. The prize money is at­trac­tive, US$15,000 if he wins .

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

Set to go: Pat Houli­han is hop­ing to bowl over the op­po­si­tion at the Asia Pa­cific Merdeka sin­gles cham­pi­onship in Kuala Lumpur next month.

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