Scottish bowler one of oldest competitors in the Commonwealth Games

  • Report by Ciaran Fitzpatrick

There's just one more day to wait until the start of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham... that's nothing to one athlete from Dumfries, who has been waiting a lot longer than that for her chance to take part.

At 72 years old, Rosemary Lenton is one of the oldest competitors at this year's Games and participation is causing huge excitement at her home bowling club.

Lawn Bowls is seen as a staple of the Commonwealth Games, being played at all but one Games since it was first held in 1930. 

In Birmingham this week, 72-year-old Rosemary Lenton from Dumfries is getting in on that action...and will be one of the oldest bowlers to have ever competed. 

She's represented Scotland at three world championships, but this will be her first Commonwealth Games - competing in the para pairs event. 

She said: "20 years ago, more or less to the day, I was in hospital and I got a letter from an old school friend of mine and she was actually volunteering at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

"And I was there reading this letter, etc. And I was laid there in bed thinking, well, that's something I'll never, ever be able to do. And, you know, I look back on it now and I think what a journey."

"At the moment, I don't feel as if I can fully take in the whole experience because the day after the opening ceremony, we start our competition.

"What I'm hoping for is to hit the ground running and come away with the medal, obviously. That's what I needed to do. And then when we finish, that's when I can all fully start and enjoy the full experience of the village."

An injury that left Rosemary in a wheelchair almost two decades ago opened her eyes to the sport as a way to stay active. 

At her bowling club in Dumfries, on the Crichton estate, they made the lawns more accessible for disabled people.

Her husband Tony plays here. He says he is incredibly proud of the journey she has been on: "Bowling in a wheelchair is it's very, very difficult. It's difficult to get the purchase. So if you're on a heavy green or it's wet or something, it's really difficult.

"But she's made a dramatic step forward since she bowled standing up with a stick. Over the last 18 months, to two years since it was first mentioned to her, I mean, the dedication has been phenomenal.

Her fellow bowlers at the club are full of praise too:, and say Rosemary also coaches other bowlers, and those less experienced than her.

The first rounds of the Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn Bowls will begin on Friday 29 July.