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What is lawn bowls, the outdoor sport that gave India its historic gold at Commonwealth Games

The Indian women’s team, consisting of Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia and Lovely Choubey, won by beating South Africa in the finals Tuesday.

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New Delhi: The Indian women lawn bowls team created history at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham Tuesday by winning a gold medal in the women’s fours format. The team, consisting of Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki (identified only by her first name), Nayanmoni Saikia and Lovely Choubey, won the medal by beating powerhouse South Africa.

From Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the Ministry of Railways and businessman Anand Mahindra, congratulations poured in for the team.

But not many are aware of this outdoor sport that involves immense accuracy and understanding of angles.

How is lawn bowls played

Lawn bowls is often considered a mix of ten-pin bowling and the winter sport of curling. While in ten-pin bowling, the goal is to take down all the pins at the end of a lane, in lawn bowling, the team has to get the ‘bowl’ (the ball) closest to a target, which is known as the ‘jack’.

Bowls are mostly spherical ball-like objects, typically made of wood, rubber or plastic resin, having flattened sides and a diameter between 112mm and 134mm. The bowls weigh up to 1.59kg and often have indentations on them to allow players better grip.

Players stand on either side of a 600mm long and 360mm wide mat and take turns rolling these bowls in an attempt to get closest to the jack. The jack is either white or yellow in colour and is smaller and lighter than the bowl.

In the fours event, the first bowler, called the lead, is followed by the second and the third. The last bowler is called the ‘skip’ and is the leader of the team. Each team member gets two bowls per round. After all eight bowlers have bowled twice, the teams switch sides.

At the end of each round, points are awarded to the team that has its bowls closest to the jack. Umpires use a device called box measure which uses a string to measure the distance between the jack and the bowls. In the fours event, each match ends after 15 rounds, with the winning team being the one with most points. If there is a tie between the two teams, they play extra rounds until a winner is declared.

Since its inaugural edition in 1930, lawn bowls has been a part of the Commonwealth Games. So far, England, Australia and South Africa have won the most medals in the game, having won 51, 50 and 44 medals respectively. Scotland has won 20 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games so far.

India has participated in lawn bowls events at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games. The country’s previous best was at fourth place in the 2010 women’s triples lawn bowling event in Delhi and in the 2014 men’s fours event at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

India has opportunities to win in the upcoming women’s triples and pairs, as well as the men’s fours lawn bowls events in this edition of the Commonwealth Games.


Also read: PM Modi congratulates weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga for capturing gold in men’s 67 kg final


 

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