Teen bowler selected for national team
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.