Kings quintet selected for Commonwealth Games

Torbay Weekly

Former Commonwealth Games silver medalist John Evans has described the selection of FIVE players from Torquay's Kings Bowling Club for the Birmingham Games later this year as 'a fantastic achievement'.

The Kings quintet - siblings Sam and Sophie Tolchard, Natalie Chestney, Louis Ridout and Jamie Walker - are joined by two more Devon bowlers, Chestney's husband Jamie (Culm Vale BC) and Plymouth Hoe's Alison Yearling, who has been picked for the visually impaired competition.

Throw in Mark and Sue Wherry (St Austell) from Cornwall, and the South West supplies half the 18-strong squad.

Evans, 74, gave up a career as a winger with Torquay United to concentrate on bowls, winning pairs silver in New Zealand (Christchurch) back in 1976.

He still advises several top players from retirement and said: "Devon are now the powerhouse of the men's game in England.

"Even though the others are excellent, superb players, Sam is the number one.

"In my day, you stayed with your one club for most of your career, but people do travel from other areas now to play for a top club, and Sam has played a big part in Kings becoming so strong."

Ridout, from Somerset, and Walker, originally from Northampton, have both joined Kings in recent seasons.

The Commonwealths is the pinnacle of the game, and the Royal Leamington Spa club will be the venue in 2022.

It will be a fourth Games for Chestney, from Kingsteignton, and a third for husband Jamie - the couple have had a baby daughter since Natalie won gold in Delhi in 2010.

"I'll definitely be aiming for gold," said Jamie, "and, as Nat already has one, it would be nice to match her.

""The chance to play at a home Games is incredible."

Sophie Tolchard, from Paignton, won gold in the triples at Glasgow (2014), as well as a host of UK and England titles.

Brother Sam, who lives in Newton Abbot, is the current national singles champion, and he'll be looking to improve on his bronze medals from 2014 and in Australia (2018).

Evans added: "I'm trying to work out who they'll pick for each event - they're all so good, that won't be easy!"