Comeback Queen Amy Pharaoh is hoping to cap a cyclical Commonwealth fairytale on the hallowed home greens of Leamington Spa this summer.
Pharaoh, 43, made her Games debut on home soil in Manchester in 2002 and two decades ago, will now compete at the home of English bowls – Victoria Park – at Birmingham 2022.
Before Pharaoh’s emergence, bowlers had to be 25 or older to be included in the England senior squad - she was 19 when the rules changed, and she joined the team.
Bronze medals in Manchester and at Melbourne 2006 followed, though the greatest moment of her career came in New Delhi in 2010, winning gold alongside Ellen Falkner.
Pharaoh did not feature in Glasgow or the Gold Coast owing to the birth of her son, Harry, in 2013 – and says she’s relishing the prospect of flying the Team England flag once more.
“There’s no greater feeling than representing your country, and then to go on and achieve the best,” she said.
“You like winning, we all like winning, but I like the competition. I think possibly I would like bowls without the competition, but for me the competition is the thing that really sets it off. When I go on the bowls green I still want to be better than I am.
🥇 2010: Gold in Delhi
👶 2013: A new mum
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“There’s always something else I could be doing. I’ve never once thought that’s it, I’ve done enough. There’s not been a defining moment. If I have won something, I want to win it again.”
To reach the standard that Pharaoh has requires a remarkable level of dedication, particularly considering that most bowlers balance full-time work alongside training and competing.
And when she welcomed Harry, she had to make a decision about her future in the sport.
Pharaoh decided to step away from the England senior squad knowing that she could not dedicate the time required – though it proved a decision that did not leave any regret.
She added: “When Harry was born in 2013 I made the decision to step away from the elite squad because my focus had changed. Being part of the elite squad, it needs to be all in.
“I was still working full time and I had Harry. I knew being part of the elite squad, with selection I might be away for periods of time, and that just for me personally it just didn’t feel right.
“Everything changed, and with all the aspects of my life, being a mum comes first. That will take priority, apparently for the rest of my life - this is what my mum says!
“That will always come first. Not being part of the elite squad in 2013, although it was a massive decision and lots of emotions, going back to that being a mum was most important to me.”
Despite her decision to step away her competitive fires still burned, and after not competing in Glasgow or Gold Coast Pharaoh will be back for a fourth Commonwealth Games this summer.
With Harry now older, Pharaoh has been back competing for a handful of years and though it is a difficult balance to maintain, she hopes it is all made worth it with another piece of silverware.
“To be part of these games is fab, because he’s old enough now to understand what’s going on,” she said.
“He kind of gets it. Where I was in 2013, I don’t think I would have been able to make that all-in and that’s not fair on other people, not just me.
“There’s always that: ‘Am I doing this for the right reasons?’ To be selected for the Commonwealth Games, I’m doing this for all the right reasons and I just want a medal.
“That would be fantastic and I think that would top it all off.”
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