72-year-old Rosemary Lenton, a pensioner, has helped her country win the Para women’s pairs bowls at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. With a combined age of 130 years, she and her partner Pauline Wilson (58) beat the Australian duo of Serena Bonnell and Cheryl Lindfield with a total score of 17-5 in the gold medal match on Wednesday. This victory in the Para Lawn Bowls thus made Lenton go into Scotland’s history books as she became the country’s oldest gold medalist in the Commonwealth Games.
After the 3rd end, Australia took a 2-1 advantage, continuing its strong start. The Scottish pair, however, came from behind and were crowned winners after 14 ends. Lenton who was competing in the Games for the first time is amongst the oldest competitors at the quadrennial event.
Speaking with BBC Sports, Lenton commented on how delighted she was.
“I think I am dreaming, to be perfectly honest,” Lenton said after the win. “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but this is absolutely fantastic. I never thought I would ever get to a Commonwealth Games and if I did, it would be as a spectator.”
Lenton’s Recovery from Injury
Lenton had sustained an injury sometime in 2002, which led to a series of surgeries and her eventually going down on a wheelchair. She had since then participated in nine editions of the World Championships in Wheelchair Curling.
“I hadn’t played the sport [bowls] until I ended up in a wheelchair in 2002,” Lenton said in an interview before the Games.
“I went into hospital for what was meant to be a straightforward operation, but I got an infection and had to have nine operations and was in the hospital for three months,” she added.
“When I was at bowls, someone suggested wheelchair curling too. You can’t sit at home and wait for the world to come to you. You have to make the effort and go out and meet others,” Lenton continued.
‘We knew we could do it’
Earlier, due to fewer resources, Lenton had to launch a fundraising campaign to cover the expense of the Games’ equipment.
“We have to use specifically colored balls for television purposes,” she said before the event. “We still need to get one more set which can cost between £250 and £380.”
Lawn Bowls is not yet included in the Olympic Games, hence Lenton feels this competition is more like the Olympics to people like her.
“It’s the first time that women’s para-bowls has been included, this is effectively our Olympics because we cannot get any higher,” she said.
After the win, her counterpart Pauline Wilson commented: “It is absolutely phenomenal… it’s been a great experience and one that I will never forget. We were confident, we believed in ourselves and we did it.”
Speaking further, Lenton also said: “We both played excellently, we always knew we could do it. In the round-robin, we didn’t always produce it, but when it really mattered we did, and that’s the important thing.”