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Wayne’s world dreams become reality with his Potters wildcard invite

PUBLISHED: 16:08 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:18 12 January 2018

The launch the 2018 World Bowls Championships at Potters, from left, 
Greg Harlow, Rebecca Field, Katherine Rednall and Wayne Willgress. 
Picture: Nick Butcher

The launch the 2018 World Bowls Championships at Potters, from left, Greg Harlow, Rebecca Field, Katherine Rednall and Wayne Willgress. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

For years, Mulbarton-born Wayne Willgress has revelled in his annual visits to Potters to watch the World Indoor Bowls Championships.

Media event to launch the 2018 World Bowls Championships at Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton, Norfolk.
Greg Harlow, Rebecca Field, Katherine Rednall and Wayne Willgress play a friendly match before the tournament.
Picture: Nick ButcherMedia event to launch the 2018 World Bowls Championships at Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton, Norfolk. Greg Harlow, Rebecca Field, Katherine Rednall and Wayne Willgress play a friendly match before the tournament. Picture: Nick Butcher

This year, the 29-year-old is dreaming of glory himself after being awarded a wildcard into the tournament, which gets under way on January 12.

The Wymondham-based bowler takes to the rink at Potters for the first time in his career, when he takes on 10th seed Andy Thomson on Thursday.

Speaking at the launch of the tournament, he said: “Playing in the World Championships is a childhood dream come true for me - I grew up coming to watch here so I’m really looking forward to playing.

“I’m hoping the local crowd will be on my side, although Andy has been around the block a few times so is very popular, but I’m sure they will be behind me.”

Media event to launch the 2018 World Bowls Championships at Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton, Norfolk.
Picture: Nick ButcherMedia event to launch the 2018 World Bowls Championships at Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton, Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher

Going into the tournament as a wildcard alleviates some of the pressure on Willgress, although he is determined to go as far as he can.

He said: “I’m going to take every game as it comes and although I don’t have much to lose, I still have a lot to gain. The ranking system is quite close at the minute, so if I get a few wins I could find myself in the top 16 of the world, which will earn me qualifications to more tournaments.”

The annual fixture - which is in its 40th year and is the 20th to take place at Potters - is also something of a homecoming for former UEA student Rebecca Field, who won the women’s singles title of this very tournament in 2013.

She said: “It is always special to play here - I’ve lived in Norfolk longer than anywhere else in my life so that makes it all the more special.

“My field opponent, Chloe Watson, has been very prolific in Irleand and will be very up for beating me, so I will need to bring my A game.”

Field also teams with defending singles champion Paul Foster in the mixed doubles, taking on 2017 mixed pairs champions Nick Brett and Claire Johnstone next Friday.

Veteran of venue Harlow hoping to go one better than 2017

With this being the 20th championships to be held at Potters, few men can lay claim to having competed at all 20.

World number one Greg Harlow is one of these men, who is looking to go one better than his runner-up finish in 2017,

Harlow, who also works as an ambassador for the venue, said: “I won here in 2010 so know what it takes and came close last year, so I’m really looking forward to it.

“I do feel having played so many times here it does put me in a good position - it helps if the local crowd know you as they do will you on.”

Harlow takes on Martin Puckett in the men’s singles, teaming with Nick Brett in the men’s pairs and Katherine Rednall in the mixed pairs.

He and Rednall meet Alex Marshall and Julie Forest while he and Brett await to find out who their opponents will be.

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