This May, national team member and international bowler Kelly McKerihen competed in the Victoria State Championships in Bendigo, Victoria. After a busy week achieving impressive results in four events, she was willing to share her experience with BCB and the bowls community.
To compete in the state championships, every team or individual must qualify by winning their regional championships. There are 16 regions in total who compete at the state championships, and it is a straight knock-out format. Since Kelly moved to Australia in 2015, she always enjoyed the challenge of trying to qualify and achieve the ultimate goal of winning a state title. Like winning a provincial title, winning a state championship earns you a spot to represent the state at the national championships.
Kelly had a very busy week of competition, and ended up making the semi-final of the ladies’ pairs and quarterfinals of the fours, and is over the moon to have won the state titles in the Triples (with teammates Tara Ferrier and Lisa Phillips) and Mixed Pairs (with fiancé Ali Forsyth). The 2021 Australian Championships are being played on the Gold Coast in October, and Kelly cannot wait to represent the “Big V” later this year.
Every time Kelly competes, there is always something she can take away and learn from the experience. “Each game might have different learnings, but that is why we keep playing the game!” Kelly shared. Some areas that she tends to focus on and reflect upon after the event has finished include patience and calling a smart game strategically, the importance of being prepared for the event on the day but also how to peak/play well at the right time for a main event, as well as adjusting to different conditions sooner than the opposition does.
Every athlete prepares differently on the day of an event, but for Kelly, the day must always start with a big cup of coffee. “It gives me a kickstart to the day and all my teammates know I function much better after I have some caffeine in me!” She explained. This is a part of her routine, but her routine also includes a warmup, ensuring she has everything she needs rink-side, and doing some visualizing before the game starts. For Kelly, playing relaxed and confident contributes to her playing well, so she lessens the stressors by being prepared and builds her confidence through visualization.
The biggest challenges for Kelly during this event were the long days and the changing conditions throughout the week. Some days she started at 8am and didn’t get off the green until 8pm. This made it challenging to stay fresh and focused and to keep playing consistent bowls all day. Another challenge faced by everyone at the event was adapting to the changing greens caused by the ever-changing temperature, rain, and wind conditions.
Despite these challenges throughout the week, it was a very enjoyable experience for Kelly. What Kelly found and still finds the most enjoyable, is being able to achieve goals and share the successes with her teammates and friends. She told BCB that winning her first mixed pairs state title with her fiancé (after a few tries) was very special, and to win the ladies triples with her teammates and be a part of Tara’s first state title was also incredibly special.
Kelly is currently in her off-season for bowls in Melbourne, and there is not much happening competition-wise at the moment. They are lucky to have a few indoor and under-cover surfaces to play on during the winter months, and next on the calendar is going through the qualifying process to earn a spot at the Australian Indoor Championships at Tweed Heads Bowls Club in August. After that, Kelly’s focus will be centered around preparing for the Australian Championships in October and getting ready for their pennant season at Clayton Bowling Club, which also starts in October. A live stream of all disciplines throughout the entire event can be found on the Bowls Victoria website.