Amy Pharaoh heartbroken after Commonwealth Games final loss
It was heartbreak for Amy Pharaoh in the most dramatic circumstances, as the final bowl of the final end denied her a second Commonwealth gold medal, 12 years after her first.
The Grimsby lawn bowler was made to settle for silver in the women’s pairs with Sophie Tolchard, after Australia’s Ellen Ryan clinched the game with an audaciously aggressive final bowl in the extra end.
Pharaoh had herself gone big with a runner to send the match to an extra end, but it was Ryan and partner Kristina Krstic who edged an enthralling encounter.
Leamington Spa has been uncharacteristically raucous during these Games, with crowds getting behind bowls in a way that has been unexpected by some.
But tense silences regularly spread across Victoria Park, as all four bowlers delivered by far the highest quality match of the tournament, before breaking into cheers when yet another bowl landed with unbelievable precision.
As Pharaoh and Tolchard left the rink, they were given a standing ovation by the Australian team assembled along one side of the green, a reflection that this was a game where it felt cruel that there had to be a loser, such was the quality and drama on show.
“It’s hard to take in at this moment in time,” said Pharaoh, who was looking to add to her gold in the same event won at Delhi 2010.
“We’ve come here, we’ve come to win, that's always been our aim and we were within a quarter of an inch of doing that. It was out of our control.
“You’ve got to take the positives, we’ve ground a lot of wins out, that was close – we can’t ask for more than that.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
This has been a monumental week for bowls, with the sport suddenly becoming rock and roll as television sets across the nation have suddenly been tuned to the goings on in Leamington.
England’s men’s triples delivered the first dose of drama as they fended off a terrific Australian comeback, but the Antipodeans had their revenge in the second act of an edge of the seat thriller.
“We did all we could do and unfortunately it just wasn’t quite meant to be,” added Tolchard.
“It shows how small the margins are between winning and losing.
“At this stage, you do need to have a little bit of luck on your side and have things go for you.”
“We certainly gave the crowd plenty to cheer for, but unfortunately just couldn’t get it over the line on the last end.”
For Pharaoh, it is the end of a long journey since Delhi. The PE teacher stepped away from the elite level of the sport to have her son, Harry, in 2013.
She only recently made the decision to return to the fold, and while medals were the aim in Birmingham, Pharaoh hopes she, and bowls, have won people’s hearts too.
“I don’t think bowls will get better than what’s happened here this week,” said Pharoah.
“As a showcase event, the number of people, non-bowlers, that have said I’ve been watching.
“Yes, we came here to win, but we wanted to put bowls back in the limelight and I think we’ve done it.”
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