Staying power

18:53, Feb 09 2013

Roberta Marshall added yet another title to her already impressive list of sporting achievements last weekend.

She played three in her Blenheim Bowling club team of skip Val Montgomery, lead Beryl Macdonald and number two Dot Capill. The team went through unbeaten over two days and won the Bowls Marlborough women's Open Fours title.

It was Roberta's first centre title after 10 years' playing bowls, a sport she took up after casually walking into the bowling club one day to check it out.

She liked what she saw and hasn't looked back.

"I felt I was on my way down with squash and tennis and it was time to try something new. My mum and dad played bowls and I popped into the club one day and Brian Montgomery took me under his wing and coached me."

Pairs or triples are her favourite bowls disciplines.


"You get a really good intimate team feeling. Fours can be a bit boring because you only get two bowls. I play every week at Blenheim. There are lots of fun tournaments."

Roberta has excelled in every sport she's played, which includes tennis, squash, harriers and hockey and, besides bowls, still plays presidents grade tennis and squash.

A Marlborough rep for many years, her squash highlight was being part of the College Old Boys' team which won the Wellington Districts elimination series 10 years ago.

Roberta is a fine tennis player and represented Marlborough out of Okaramio and Renwick, winning the Rapaura Doubles crown with her friend Ann Walker in 2006. She won a doubles title at the New Zealand senior tennis tournament in 2009.

Although describing herself as an unorthodox player, her tenacity and ability to read the game often unsettle and frustrate her opponents.

In 1969 Roberta toured Australia with the New Zealand Women's Minor Association hockey team playing out of Malvern in Canterbury and played for the New Zealand 23- and-under side in 1971 at an international tournament in Auckland where among their opposition were the full New Zealand senior team, India and Canada.

She excelled at harriers winning Queen of the Withers title in 1991 and in 1992 ran at the Oceania Games in Norfolk Island where she won five medals including three golds.

Born in Christchurch, Roberta married Sandy Marshall in 1969 and the couple have two children, Andrew and Stuart, and five grandchildren.

They lived at Motueka, farming and running motels and a contracting business, and lived at Renwick and Picton before settling in Blenheim near where Roberta worked as a maths and science teacher, first at Marlborough Girls' College then Marlborough Boys' College.

Sport is a huge part of the family's background. Sandy was a New Zealand representative fullbore rifle shooter, won the prestigious Ballinger Belt and was Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year in 1990. He also plays bowls at the Blenheim Bowling Club, having retired from shooting, while son Andrew is a Renwick Cricket Club stalwart and Andrew's wife Tracey is a former world champion Black Ferns rugby prop.

Roberta and Sandy are both retired now but are great examples of how staying involved in sport helps keep them healthy and active.

When they are not bowling, Roberta enjoys walking, gardening and the couple try and get out in their campervan whenever possible.

She summed up her life nicely.

"We enjoy family, friends and sport."

The Marlborough Express