Anwen Butten in action for Wales.

Anwen Butten Has This Commonwealth Thing Sewn Up

By Rob Cole

Bowls is very much a family affair for Anwen Butten, who will be heading to her fifth successive Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

The 45-year-old made her Team Wales debut in Manchester in 2002, when she picked up the first of her two medals to date in partnership with Joanna Weale, and is showing no signs of weakening in her resolve to claim a gold before she retires.

Her second medal came in Delhi in 2010, when she struck bronze once again in the women’s pairs in tandem with Hannah Smith. Eight years on, she travels with arguably the most talented Welsh women’s bowls team of all-time in pursuit of gold and glory.

Rob Weale holds the record with eight Games appearances between 1986-2014 as a bowler, winning two golds, three silvers and a bronze, but Butten is set to become the most prolific Welsh women’s bowler.

Not a bad return for an athlete who was inspired to play at the age of 13 while watching her mother compete for Wales at international level. Still coached by her Mum, the bowls bug has been handed down to another generation of Butten’s with Anwen’s children, Alis (19) and Hari (17), both now playing internationally.

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A Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Hywel Dda University Health Board, Butten plays for Lampeter Bowling Club during the outdoor season and at Carmarthen Indoor Stadium during the winter. With Kathy Pearce and Emma Woodcock she hopes to go one better than their silver medal performance at the 2016 World Outdoor Bowls Championships in Christchurch, Butten’s fifth medal at world level.

“I’m absolutely delighted, and very excited, to once again be selected for Team Wales and to represent lawn bowls is a huge honour and I am very excited,” said Butten, who will become the first Welsh women’s bowler to win three medals at the Games if she makes the podium again.

“It’s impossible to replicate the conditions we will be facing at the Broadbeach rink here in Wales but, indoor practice helps us slow down our delivery down ready for the greens in Australia.

“I’ve been going to the gym at least two or three a week to ensure I stayed healthy in the build up to the Games, but it has been important to get a balance between my work, family life, bowls practice and maintaining fitness. It can be difficult to manage time effectively, but my preparation has gone well.”

While going to the Commonwealth Games is old hat these days for Butten, it will be a new experience for one of her Triples team mates, Woodcock. The 2015 Welsh singles champion, she is now stranger to top-flight tournaments having picked up that silver at the world championships two years ago.

Introduced to the sport as a 10-year-old, when she joined her father at the local bowls club, she played her first game at Knighton Community Centre in 1996. The following year saw her started playing outdoors and, just two years after taking up the sport, she was playing in the Home Nations International.

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These days she plays outdoors at Cardiff and indoors at Sully and she can’t wait to represent Team Wales on the Gold Coast.

“Being selected was a dream come true. I have been playing bowls for over 30 years and this had been on my to-do list for a long time,” explained Woodcock, a full-time Financial Auditor.

“As well as practising indoors to get used to the faster surface, I have been attending personal training sessions to help improve my strength and conditioning which will help out in Australia where the pace of the green can place extra strain on your thighs.

“Preparation with the team has gone really well. We’ve had regular get-togethers, which have been great in terms of getting to know each other as individuals and how we like to play.”

Making up the trio of title contenders in the Triples is Caroline Anwen Butten in action for Wales.Taylor, a double World Championship medalist herself and heading to her second Commonwealth Games. In Glasgow four years ago she  played alongside her coach, four-time Commonwealth veteran, Kathy Pearce.

It was her grandfather, the greenkeeper at the Berriew Club in Powys, who inspired her to take up the sport. That spawned what is currently a 15-year international career.

“I’m very excited to have been selected. It is an amazing experience to go to the Commonwealth Games and being a part of Team Wales is such an honour,” she said.

WELSH WOMEN’S BOWLS MEDALISTS AT THE COMMONEWATLH GAMES

Women’s Singles
1994       Rita Jones            Silver
2006       Betty Morgan    Silver

Women’s Pairs
1994       Janet Ackland & Betty Dainton   Bronze
1998       Rita Jones & Ann Sutherland       Bronze
2002       Anwen Butten & Joanna Weale Bronze
2010       Anwen Butten & Hannah Smith Bronze

Women’s Fours
1986       Linda Parker, Linda Evans, Joan Ricketts & Rita Jones       Gold
2002       Ann Sutherland, Gill Miles, Nina Shipperlee & Pam John                Bronze

Women’s Visually Impaired Singles
1994       Gloria Hopkins   Silver

 

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