Former Urunga lad Corey Wedlock, who is currently the top-ranked Australian bowler, has been chosen for the 10-strong national team to compete in the 2020 World Bowls Championships.
The 23-year-old is one of three young Australian debutants for the 14-day event involving 36 countries that will run from May 26 to June 7 on the Gold Coast.
Proud father Glen Wedlock, who has won a few bowls titles himself, said he'll certainly aim to be there watching.
"That's about the closest I can get to see him," he said.
Glen, who has been club champion at North Beach for the last few years and has won majors at Urunga and Sydney, introduced Corey to the game by taking him along to the Bondi Bowls Club he was only eight years old.
The pair of them moved to Urunga two years later, and although Corey played a variety of sports, including rugby league for Group 2 on the North Coast, it was lawn bowls that offered him his first big opportunities.
"He's always been very good at ball sports," Glen said. "We moved up here when he was 10, and he won his minor premiership and grand final in cricket, soccer and rugby league. And also played lawn bowls. All in the one year.
"We got him in the state side for bowls first. He took that opportunity straight away and he had to leave his football behind," Glen said. "It got too complicated trying to get from one place to another on the same day."
By 14, Corey had a place on the NSW Under 18s team, and by 17 he'd been selected to represent Australia.
After finishing at Bellingen High, he took up an attractive greenkeeper's apprenticeship offer from the Cabramatta Bowling Club, one of the city's biggest and home to the NSW National Training Centre for the sport.
A bit over a year ago, he was invited to join the club at Warilla, near Wollongong, where his hours are very flexible to accommodate the time off he needs to play bowls.
Corey said the number of players aged in their 20s coming through now to the national level shows how the sport is changing.
"The average age is actually quite young," he said. "The image has always been that it's an older person's game but we've got different tournaments and concepts now, more games on TV, trying to change the image of the game. Trying to get it out there that it is actually a young person's game."
Earlier this month, Corey was part of the winning Australian team in the Trans-Tasman competition against New Zealand.
His other achievements, as listed on the Bowls Australia website, include:
INTERNATIONAL PLAYING ACHIEVEMENTS:
- 2019 Trans Tasman - Overall Team/Overall Men's Champion
- 2019 Multi-Nations - Overall Team/Overall Men's Champion
- 2019 Multi-Nations - Silver - Triples, Fours
- 2018 Welsh 10 Nations - Gold - Fours
- 2018 Welsh 10 Nations - Silver - Triples
- 2017 Gold Coast Multi-Nations - Gold - Triples
- 2017 Gold Coast Multi-Nations - Bronze - Fours
INTERNATIONAL PLAYING ACHIEVEMENTS (NON-CAPPED):
- 2014 Under-18 Trans-Tasman overall trophy
- 2015 Hong Kong International Gold - Pairs
- 2016 World Youth Championships - Bronze - Singles
- 2016 Hong Kong international - Gold - Pairs
- 2016 Under-25 Trans-Tasman overall trophy
- 2017 World Youth Championships - Silver - Singles
NATIONAL PLAYING ACHIEVEMENTS:
- 2013 Australian Under-18 Championship - Fours - Gold
- 2013 Australian Under-18 Championships - Triples - Bronze
- 2012 Australian Under-18 Championships - Triples - Silver