Teen bowler se­lected for na­tional team

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TIM BAR­TON

Seamus Curtin could be­come a poster boy for the next gen­er­a­tion of bowlers.

The 14-year-old Aotea Col­lege stu­dent is ev­i­dence that the sport can cap­ture the heart of young­sters.

Curtin com­peted in the open sin­gles at the na­tional cham­pi­onships as a 12-year-old and has now made his first New Zealand team, in his sec­ond year at sec­ondary school.

He is one of two bowlers se­lected in the New Zealand team for the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games, in Samoa in Septem­ber.

He will con­test the boys’ sin­gles and team with Ash­leigh Jef­f­coat (Hamil­ton Girls’) in the mixed pairs.

The age range for the Youth Games varies from sport to sport and the bowlers have to be aged from 14 to 18.

The bowls team was an­nounced last week, though Curtin had known he was in the team for more than three weeks.

‘‘I had to keep it quiet,’’ he said.

He was the youngest of a squad of five boys short­listed for the team and spent an anx­ious day at school on the day the play­ers were to be told whether they had been se­lected.

Fi­nally na­tional coach Dave Ed­wards rang with the news he wanted to hear. ‘‘I was re­ally ex­cited – and cel­e­brated with a sparkling grapefruit juice.’’

Mak­ing the Youth Games team was one of Curtin’s goals for 2015 and he said it was the high­point of his fledg­ling ca­reer.

It will also mean he will have to keep prac­tis­ing over the win­ter, when most greens are closed, and is grate­ful for the ef­forts of Plim­mer­ton Bowl­ing Club green­keeper Char­lie Hughes, who will at­tempt to keep a rink open for Curtin.

Curtin, who does not have to worry about NCEA till next year, hopes to prac­tise most days in the leadup to Samoa.

His ma­jor hur­dle will be the speed of the greens in Samoa, which will be much slower than in New Zealand.

‘‘I will have to work on a dif­fer­ent de­liv­ery and strate­gies [to com­pen­sate for the slower greens],’’ Curtin said.

He be­came in­ter­ested in bowls through his par­ents, Con and Rachel. ‘‘ They took up bowls when I was very young and I spent quite a lot of time at bowl­ing clubs.

‘‘I started play­ing when I was 10 and liked it and got more com­pet­i­tive in my sec­ond sea­son and re­ally wanted to play a lot.

‘‘I wasn’t too bad at cricket, but I quit to play bowls. I had more fun at bowls. That’s why I play it.’’

Curtin also plays bas­ket­ball and is in the ju­nior A team at Aotea but said he didn’t take it as se­ri­ously as bowls.

The Aotea young­ster has made rapid progress as a bowler.

He qual­i­fied for post-sec­tion play in the sin­gles at the na­tional cham­pi­onships in Jan­uary, made the last 16 at the re­cent Kit­ty­hawk un­der- 21 sin­gles and was se­lected in a North Is­land team that played the South Is­land in Fe­bru­ary.

The North and South teams were cho­sen as devel­op­ment teams and Curtin’s se­lec­tion was ev­i­dence he was mak­ing an im­pres­sion at a na­tional level.

He also won the sin­gles and pairs ti­tles at the Col­lege Sport Welling­ton cham­pi­onships.

There were also some mem­o­rable mo­ments in 2014, most no­tably when com­bin­ing with 19-year-old Lach­lan Gor­don to win the Welling­ton cen­tre open pairs tour­na­ment.

‘‘I think I’m the youngest to ever win it in Welling­ton.’’

Curtin’s ef­forts at the Kit­ty­hawk tour­na­ment clinched his se­lec­tion for the Youth Games. He was the top qual­i­fier at the Welling­ton re­gional qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment and topped his sec­tion at the na­tional tour­na­ment, to make the last 16, be­fore los­ing in post- sec­tion play.

His long-term goal is to make the Black Jacks, the se­nior New Zealand side, be­fore he turns 25.

Ed­wards, who is also con­vener of se­lec­tors for New Zealand Bowls, said Curtin’s at­ti­tude, as well as his skills, had earned him se­lec­tion for Samoa.

‘‘ He’s truly com­mit­ted and quite pro­fes­sional in his ap­proach,’’ Ed­wards said. ‘‘ He ac­cepts coach­ing, is dis­ci­plined with his train­ing and his work ethic is way be­yond his years.’’

‘‘He doesn’t just stick to his age group. It was no mean feat [to make post-sec­tion play] at the New Zealand open and he per­formed re­ally well at the Kit­ty­hawk tour­na­ment, against qual­ity play­ers.

Aotea Col­lege bowler Seamus Curtin will rep­re­sent New Zealand on the in­ter­na­tional stage this year.

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