There would be few arguments about the winner of the Supreme Award at the inaugural Bowls New Zealand Summerset Bowls Awards held at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday night.
Jo Edwards’ record speaks for itself. She’s won gold in the World Outdoor Championship Pairs twice (2004 & 2008), silver twice (2012 & 2016), and a bronze in the singles (2016). She’s won a Commonwealth gold three times – in the pairs in 2002 and in the singles in 2014 and 2018. She’s represented New Zealand in a whopping 536 matches – more than any other bowler. Ever. And that’s not even starting to list her numerous national, centre and club titles over the years.
But it was the gutsy effort at the Games on the Gold Coast earlier this year that said heaps about Jo – when after an early round-robin loss she toughed it out through four must-win games to win New Zealand’s only bowls gold. Jo showed the never-say-die stuff us Kiwis love in our sportspeople, and what inspires us all to greater things. And what clinched the Supreme Award for Jo.
Last night’s awards were a new addition to the bowls calendar. “We’ve always acknowledged bowls excellence,” says Bowls New Zealand Chief Executive, Mark Cameron. “But not at a gala annual awards evening as other sports do. We felt it was time to celebrate achievement in our sport, and publicly recognise the best of the bowls best.”
Taking centre stage with Supreme Winner Edwards was this year’s Hall of Fame Inductee Anne Lomas. Anne’s contribution to the sport of lawn bowls has been second-to-none – on, off and around the green.
She was first capped in 1998, and has played for New Zealand 134 times, winning gold in both the World Outdoor Championship triples and fours in 2000, as well as nailing a bronze in the fours in the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. Around the same time, Anne and her teammates became the fear of the competition at the Asia Pacific Championships.
But it all hasn’t just been about international titles – Anne’s got x national titles, 15 centre titles (Counties Manukau) and 40+ club titles (Hunua) in her title collection. And that’s all just on the green.
Off and around the green, Anne Lomas has been one of those people that makes a sport out of giving – giving to her club, her fellow club members, her fellow team members … and just giving to the sport of bowls.
Edwards and Lomas headed a field of winners announced by MC, broadcaster and sports presenter Geoff Bryan.
Partnering Edwards as Player of the Year (female) was the redoubtable Ali Forsyth, Player of the Year (male). While Leeane Poulson and Seamus Curtin took out Development Players of the Year. There were no surprises in the para game, with the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallists Mark Noble, Barry Wynks and Bruce Wakefield taking the Para Sport Award.
But it wasn’t just a night for accolading players. Rachel Wybourne-Curtin was chosen as Coach of the Year, Maurice Symes Greenkeeper of the Year and Michael Johnson Umpire of the Year. It was also an opportunity to recognise the best from the 500 or so clubs throughout New Zealand, with Stokes Valley Bowling Club taking Club of the Year and John Latimer Club Person of the Year.
As well as an opportunity for entertainer/comedian Brendhan Lovegrove to mention ‘underarm bowling’ in a completely different light at the home of cricket in Auckland.
“It was a great night,” said Cameron. “The evening heralded the fact that we aren’t just a hobby sport to many, but a sport where Kiwis are competing professionally at the elite international level.”
2017-2018 Club of the Year
Stokes Valley Bowling Club
2017-2018 Coach of the Year
2017-2018 Club Person of the Year
2017-2018 Greenkeeper of the Year
2017-2018 Umpire of the Year
2017-2018 Development Player of the Year Female
2017-2018 Development Player of the Year Male
2017-2018 Player of the Year Female
Jo Edwards MNZM
2017-2018 Player of the Year Male
2017-2018 Para Sport Award
Mark Noble, Barry Wynks, Bruce Wakefield. 2018 Commonwealth Games
Para Triples Silver Medallists
2017-2018 Team of the Year
Wellington Men’s Intercentre
2017-2018 Hall of Fame
2017-2018 Summerset Supreme Award Winner
Jo Edwards MNZM