Carla Odgers is confident a youthful Australian lawn bowls squad will be up for the challenge of tackling unfamiliar slow greens at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
All 10 able-bodied members of the Australian team named on Tuesday are under 40 and three of the five women – Kelsey Cottrell, Natasha Scott and Games debutante Odgers – are just 23.
It’s a striking example of the changing face of a sport where Australia is targeting seven overall medals, and three golds, in Glasgow.
“Since I was a little kid I’ve dreamed of competing at a Commonwealth Games,” Odgers, who took up bowls at the age of 15, told AAP.
“Initially it was in a netball or a basketball team but then I fell into lawn bowls and here I am.
“It’s a dream come true.
“Every country is a little bit different but I think Australia is the most forward-thinking country in having the youth playing and really pushing them through to the elite level.”
Australian head coach Steve Glasson said host nation Scotland would likely provide the stiffest competition, along with the likes of England, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.
Several leading Australian bowls clubs have deliberately slowed down their greens to provide the best chance for the country’s elite bowlers to practise in British-style conditions.
“We’re very lucky that in Australia we’ve got fantastic weather, whereas when we go to the UK, obviously the climate has a major impact in how the greens perform,” said Glasson.
“The skill is not as high because you’re constantly playing an aggressive style of game, which is not one we’re accustomed to playing.
“We’re used to a more skills-based game.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve really got to get into our heads.
“We need everyone to be in the right place mentally to manipulate their game to suit the UK conditions.”
There are 10 gold medals on offer in Glasgow – including one for vision-impaired mixed pairs and another in the triples for bowlers with a disability.
Seven members of the 17-strong Australian squad will be making their Commonwealth debuts.
Triples world champion Karen Murphy will be competing at her fourth Commonwealth Games, while 2006 Melbourne gold medallist Lynsey Clarke has qualified for her third successive Commonwealth team.
Nathan Rice – who claimed Commonwealth bronze in the pairs eight years ago – is back in favour after missing selection for the 2010 Games and the 2012 world championships.