World bowls set for Potters stage

The Potters Holidays World Indoor Bowls Championships return from January 7-23 with a �40,000 prize for the men’s singles winner, the biggest prize in the history of the tournament.

The singles and pairs events at Potters at Hopton attract the world’s best players from the globe’s leading bowls nations and this time around will include the Acle club’s Tim Stone and his county rivals from Fakenham Gallow Mervyn King – a previous Potters champion – and Jamie Chestney.

In addition to record crowds, the three-week festival of international bowls also features live BBC TV coverage in the UK, as well as international exposure on Eurosport and Sky TV.

“Potters have truly raised the bar for sponsorship of international bowls,” said World Bowls Tour chief executive Nigel Oldfield. “The World Indoor Championships have gone from strength to strength since we first came to Norfolk in 1999. The facilities here are superb – unprecedented around the world – and the support we get is excellent.”

To date Potters have invested more than �3,000,000 towards World Indoor Bowls.

Brian Potter, chairman of Potters Leisure Ltd, added: “Bringing the televised World Championships to Norfolk ten years ago and putting bowls on the East Anglia map has been enormously satisfying.

“Hosting these championships has attracted hundreds of thousands of bowls enthusiasts to Potters – not just to watch the world’s best players during the championships but also to play on our rinks throughout the year.

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“Our association with the World Bowls Tour has proved to be a perfect partnership and we look forward to celebrating our tenth anniversary next year.”

The competitions are the Professional World Indoor Singles Championship, the Professional World Indoor Pairs Championship, the World Mixed Pairs Matchplay and Ladies’ World Matchplay.

The BBC has extended its TV coverage to ensure the finals of all four competitions will be televised live.

A new wild card initiative enables sponsors to have an input into the qualifiers’ list. This ensures an opportunity for talented and popular local players who may otherwise have narrowly missed out on a place to compete on the world bowls stage.

Potters’ two wild cards, for the open singles, are Tim Stone and Stewart Anderson.

Managing director of Potters, John Potter, explained: “We chose Tim Stone because he is becoming a firm favourite with our local audience. Last time Tim had a fantasatic season and qualified for each of the big international competitions on the World Bowls Tour.

“He even raced to Potters to compete in his first round match against Graham Smith only hours after his wife had had their first child – now that’s commitment!”

Stone was knocked out in the second round last time by the then world No 1 Alex Marshall. “We wanted to give him a chance to compete on the Potters stage again to see if he can go further in the competition.”

Stone said: “I’m really grateful to Potters for giving me the chance to play in the most important competition in indoor bowls.

“The qualifiers didn’t go as well as I’d hoped so to get a second chance to compete for rankings points is fantastic. My aim is to reach the quarter-finals, but I know that every match at Potters will be tough.

“However the great thing about bowls is that it’s a sport where, on the day, anyone can win.”

The second wild card is Stewart Anderson, 25, from Scotland who was an unseeded player (world No 78) when he reached the final of the last Open Singles competition at Potters.