God­dard comes good in land of green and gold

Play­ing in Aus­tralia helped take her game to an­other level and now she’s en­joyed a ma­jor re­sult over there

Weekend Herald - - The Big Read - Chris Rattue

Auck­land lawn bowler Selina God­dard had a big in­ter­na­tional break­through, win­ning bronze at the world cham­pion of cham­pi­ons sin­gles in Syd­ney last month. God­dard — not a sin­gles spe­cial­ist — is a rare bowls prodigy who had just turned 20 when she com­peted at the 2014 Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games, where she won a fours bronze medal.

We caught up with the 23- year- old Black Jack at the Carl­ton Corn­wall Bowls Club, where she has a new full­time role boost­ing mem­ber­ship and fi­nances.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on the cham­pion of cham­pi­ons sin­gles bronze medal in Syd­ney.

World champ of champs is quite spe­cial — you get there on your own merit, not se­lec­tion. I was on cloud nine, qual­i­fy­ing in the top three there, and cloud 10 af­ter top­ping my sec­tion.

It’s so hard to win the na­tional sin­gles and when you get that ticket to the cham­pion of cham­pi­ons, you’ve got to take it with both hands. I was so pleased to come away from Syd­ney with some­thing.

Also, I usu­ally con­cen­trate on the teams events. I re­ally en­joy lead­ing — there’s no place to hide. It is a bit self­less of me, I sup­pose, but it’s how my brain ticks. I like do­ing it for the rest of the team.

What has led to any im­prove­ment in your game?

I spent three years on the ( Aus­tralian) Gold Coast, where they play all year round — win­ter is ac­tu­ally the busiest pe­riod there.

I was so used to keep­ing my arm in from that ex­pe­ri­ence that af­ter I re­turned to Auck­land, I kept prac­tis­ing on ar­ti­fi­cial greens at Ep­som in win­ter . . . through the hail, the rain, through the ‘ this nearly feels like snow’. With the ma­jor­ity of the age group play­ing our game, though, I wouldn’t rec­om­mend they play in our freez­ing cold weather and rain.

Your goals?

The longer I play, the more sim­ple it gets — per­form con­sis­tently, from so­cial events to our na­tion­als. It’s im­por­tant to feel that pres­sure ev­ery time I play. It’s hard to have re­sult-ori­en­tated goals in in­ter­na­tional bowls be­cause you need to be se­lected first. If I get se­lected, my goals shift for that event.

You seem so young to bowl, es­pe­cially in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Peo­ple I meet, friends of friends, tell me they know the game through their grand­par­ents . . . I say ‘ I prob­a­bly played against them’.

Where did it all start?

My par­ents ( Irene and Phil God­dard) were Paku­ranga Bowl­ing Club mem­bers. Ev­ery­body there was sec­ond fam­ily to me when I was lit­tle. I re­mem­ber plonk­ing my­self in a seat, and ob­vi­ously be­ing spoilt, get­ting a packet of chips and a fizzy drink.

When I was at How­ick Col­lege, they of­fered col­le­giate bowls when I was 14. My best friend came with me and we had the best day ever, and they had coaches from Auck­land Bowls at the event.

About a year af­ter start­ing, I got a trip to Queens­land play­ing for an Auck­land team — that was when I re­alised the op­por­tu­ni­ties and the places I could visit. There aren’t many sports like that at that age.

Is there much dif­fer­ence be­tween Aussie and Kiwi bowlers?

There are a lot more com­pet­i­tive ones over there. I couldn’t be­lieve it when I first moved there and played a so­cial event. They would bring out a mea­sure.

In so­cial events in New Zealand, if there are two bowls close, you say ‘ I think it’s yours’ or even give it away. The Aus­tralians might even get some­one else to mea­sure it.

It was ac­tu­ally good for me, play­ing against so many com­pet­i­tive high- level peo­ple ev­ery time.

What about Aus­tralia’s raz­zledaz­zle Premier League?

There are lights, mi­cro­phones, en­er­getic crowds, a quick for­mat. The rules are sim­ple to fol­low . . . a re­ally en­er­getic way to play the game. I’d love to get in the New Zealand team for that.

Are you su­per­sti­tious?

I try not to be, be­cause it could af­fect your game. But there are some things I like to do . . . I al­ways lis­ten to mu­sic in the open so ev­ery­body can hear and it cre­ates a light at­mos­phere.

I can’t have any strand of hair com­ing out of my cap — I think it might flick across my face.

It was re­ally hard at the champ of champs be­cause typ­i­cal Aus­tralia, there were so many flies. You’re about to play a bowl to save your­self in a world event, and a fly lands on your nose. I thought, gee, how am I sup­posed to prac­tise for this?

That’s why I try not to be su­per­sti­tious — you’ve got to be able to whack a fly away and stay in your zone. I also no­ticed from video anal­y­sis my toes have a wee spasm be­fore I step.

Video anal­y­sis — how im­por­tant?

Re­ally im­por­tant. I check on my de­liv­ery about once a month. I ac­tu­ally asked ( vet­eran Kiwi bowler) Mike Ker­naghan to have a look at my video — he’s got the most fluid and beau­ti­ful de­liv­ery I’ve ever seen. He pointed out that, es­pe­cially on my back­hand, the toes on the foot which steps out were turn­ing in­wards.

It’s all about an­gles, where your hips are, your shoul­ders are. The left foot wasn’t fall­ing in the right di­rec­tion. I’d sent video to a lot of other peo­ple but it wasn’t a main thing they had spot­ted.

It has made a dif­fer­ence, big time. It’s ex­cit­ing to know that some­thing mi­nor like that can make such a big dif­fer­ence.

Who is your tough­est op­po­nent?

That’s tough . . . you play so many games. It sounds a bit cheesy . . . the per­son I have al­ways strug­gled to beat is my dad.

He’s such a nat­u­ral. I’m prac­tis­ing ev­ery week, and he comes out af­ter 10 months and beats me. It was al­ways my ul­ti­mate goal, to beat dad, but nine years and all these achieve­ments later, I still strug­gle.

He knows my game in­side out, how my brain works. He knows where to put a bowl to an­noy me, my weak spots. He is so com­pet­i­tive — he’s at his ul­ti­mate best when we play. But I re­ally en­joy play­ing him. It’s good fa­ther- daugh­ter time, and we al­ways have a drink af­ter­wards.

It sounds a bit cheesy . . . the per­son I have al­ways strug­gled to beat is my dad. He knows where to put a bowl to an­noy me, my weak spots. Selina God­dard on her tough­est op­po­nent

Pic­ture / Ja­son Ox­en­ham

A trip to Queens­land rep­re­sent­ing Auck­land while still at school helped Selina God­dard re­alise the op­por­tu­ni­ties bowls pre­sented.

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