Bowls world record attempt: marathon by club to tackle 'age stigma'

Team 72 member Abby Woodward in competitive action
Team 72 member Abby Woodward, 18, in competitive action

Think bowls is just for old people? Think again.

It's true the sport has a reputation as a game for the over-60s, but that's a "stigma" that six bowls enthusiasts intend to shake off with their attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous indoor game.

At 09:00 GMT on Friday, 10 March at Moonfleet 2000 Bowls Club in Weymouth, they will throw the first jack in a marathon match scheduled to last at least 72 hours.

If they achieve their three-day feat they will sail past the existing official record of 40 hours, set in Australia in 2013.

The record attempt is the brainchild of life-long bowler Jo Wahnon, 59, who has put together a youthful team - christened Team 72 - in Chris Aitken, 37, Dan Steadman, 39, Abby Woodward, 18, Daniel Tomberry, 28 and Jamie Reynolds, 26.

Team 72
Team 72: (top l-r) Joe Wahnon, Dan Steadman, Chris Aitken; (bottom l-r) Daniel Tomberry, Jamie Reynolds, Abby Woodward

"I was challenged by a member of our popular Facebook group to break the bowls record as a bit of a joke," explains Jo.

He canvassed support online, attracting team members from Poole, Salisbury, Kettering and Corby, ready to assemble in Jo's home town of Weymouth for the record attempt.

"I thought it would be a great way to bring the game I love into the limelight and, at the same time, show how caring the bowls community is and what we can do collectively for the sport."

Charity initiative

But the record books are not the only aim for Jo and his team.

Last year, Jo raised £1,500 for Meningitis Now and Team 72 will use the record attempt as a platform to raise money for six charities: Disability Bowls England, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Alzheimer's Society, Meningitis Now and Help for Heroes.

Team member Chris, 37, believes the charitable effort and record-attempt coverage can help boost the profile of the sport across the UK and change people's perceptions.

"I want to help make bowls mainstream," he says. "The sport has thousands of clubs up and down the country, with number of teams and players only rivalled by football.

"We're really targeting 25 to 40-year-olds, as that's when people often fall out of the sport," Chris adds. "They've tried it when they were younger and enjoyed it but then life gets in the way."

"Bowls is a skilful game and we want to help it lose the 'old man sport' stigma. We want people to try it for themselves - or try it again - and we're sure they'll be surprised how much they love it!"

Find out more...

For more information, or if you want to watch a live stream of Team 72's marathon match or donate to any of the charities listed, head to the record attempt's official website.

And if you want to find out about getting involved in bowls yourself, check out our Get Inspired guide to find a club near you.

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