Bowls: Janice ready to take on the world

England indoor bowler Janice Gower from Galgate who has qualified for the World Championships.
England indoor bowler Janice Gower from Galgate who has qualified for the World Championships.

It’s fair to say a passion for indoor bowls keeps Janice Gower busy.

The Galgate gal will play in the last eight of the mixed pairs and ladies singles at the Just Retirement World Championships in Great Yarmouth this weekend.

Janice Gower in action at the 2012 World Championships.

Janice Gower in action at the 2012 World Championships.

And when not mixing it with the best in the world, the England international organises bowls holidays, coaches juniors and disabled bowlers, as well as writing and commentating on a sport she got hooked on at 18.

But aren’t all bowlers retired and simply trying to fill time after giving up work?

Not according to Janice, in her early 40s.

“There’s a lot of juniors involved at the worlds this year,” said the Blackpool Newton Hall player whose first job was as a guide at the Ashton Memorial.

“There’s a 16-year-old playing as well as a 70-year-old. It really is a sport for all. Everybody can play. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to be fit.

“I played back-to-back games on Sunday and they were four-and-a-half or five hours so it really is physically and mentally demanding.

“I’ve tried to get myself fit enough so I’m mentally able to compete at the top level.”

The world championships kicked off last week, with Janice entering the fray in the mixed pairs tomorrow night, Friday, before her quarter-final singles match against Scotland’s Julie Forrest on Saturday afternoon.

And after a stellar season, Janice is in confident mood after coming through a gruelling qualification process to return to the biggest event in her sport after missing out in 2013.

“It’s my fourth time at the event and it’s the first time it’s an open invitational,” she said.

“In the past it depended on how you performed against the men but I’m really pleased to have come through the qualifying process because there was a lot of hard games and a lot of travelling. I’m going there in confident mood.

“I’m having a really good season and it’s a great event. It’s the only one with a single rink with so many people watching you at one moment.

“There’s people from all over the world involved, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.”

Part of her great season was not only selection for England for a sixth year in December, but learning that for the first time she will be responsible for her own rink and team of four.

“I went to the trials in December and usually play number three,” said Janice.

“But to be given my own rink proves what a good season I’ve had.

“I think only one other North West player has done that before and I’m the only one from the region in the England team of 24.”

It is a sport traditionally dominated by players from the south but Janice hasn’t looked back since first trying out crown green bowling aged 14.

“I went to a green at Highfield with my mum and dad,” she said. “I first played indoor aged 17 and 18 just to pass the winter with a group of friends. I was the one who got hooked.

“My parents have always supported me in my bowls and go with me to as many events as possible.

“I think I’m proof that if you’re passionate about something you can do it.

“I’m fighting against no-one from the area doing it but battled to get where I am.”

Watch Janice’s two quarter-finals, in the mixed pairs on Friday night at 7.30pm and singles on Saturday afternoon at 2pm live on www.247.tv.

The latter stages of the Just Retirement World Indoor Bowls Championships are live on BBC TV from Monday, January 20.