One of Takahanga Bowling Club's most dedicated players has been named in the Marlborough rep team to play against Canterbury, Wellington and Dunedin in the upcoming quadrangular tournament.
Mary Riddell has been selected by Kaki Manuera for the fours team which will compete later this month. She is also now the player with the most centre titles in Marlborough, with 22 titles equating to her gold star and three bars - five titles earns a player a gold star, then five more becomes a bar.
With titles for her efforts in singles, pairs, triples and fours, Mary has been notching them up for more than two decades, her first coming in 1992 for the champion of championship pairs at her local club.
"I started playing long before that, in 1977 or 78, so it actually took me a long time to get my first title."
But once the ball was rolling, Mary began collecting titles apace, her best year coming in 2007 when she took out a raft of titles in singles, pairs, triples and fours. And she puts the successes down to putting in the extra time.
"When I first started I didn't play all that much but you need to practise. . .well I like to anyway. I am practising more now because I've got this tournament coming up. But it can take up as little or as much time as you like really."
As well as putting in the time to practise in areas she is not so good at, Mary also credits the patience of husband Percy, who is supportive enough to allow her to be away for many weekends throughout the season.
"He is very understanding. It's a lot of weekends away."
Last weekend it was the open fours, and the weekend before that she was playing in the open triples, reaching the finals in Havelock. Coming up is the sevens in Blenheim, open triples, open fours and then she is off to Christchurch and Auckland to play. And when she is not on the green she can often be found catering for events such as the men's tournament which is also coming up in a month's time.
Although it can be a time-consuming pastime, Mary says the social side of the game is what she enjoys most. She has met some wonderful people as well as going to places she may never have otherwise gone.
"You get a really nice calibre of person in bowls. You might be sitting in a restaurant and see some women come in and you'll look at their feet to see if they are a bowler. . .they are a really friendly mob."
And the local club is gaining in strength with a number of new people taking up the sport in recent years. With 10 junior men and seven junior women (junior players having joined in the past five years) and two or three prospective new players on the horizon, Mary is excited about where the sport is heading in Kaikoura.
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