Jo Edwards wins gold in Games bowls singles

GOLDEN BOWLER: Jo Edwards has won the women's singles bowls at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
GOLDEN BOWLER: Jo Edwards has won the women's singles bowls at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Jo Edwards allowed herself a "sneaky" beer to celebrate her gold medal, but she hopes she and good friend Val Smith can have a couple together later in the week.

Edwards and Smith both won Commonwealth Games medals this morning in Glasgow and now team up in the pairs, starting tonight. Smith's medal earlier today was a bronze in the fours.

Edwards and Smith are great mates, but that friendship was tested when Smith was ousted from the singles spot and replaced by Edwards before the Games.

Edwards' 21-15 win in the singles this morning went a long way to validating the selectors' decision.

But it added more pressure on the Nelson bowler and has made for interesting times between her and Smith.

"When the team was announced, the first person I thought about was Val, we've been friends for 32 years," Edwards said.

"It came as as much of a surprise to me as it was to her. We talked about it and I think she summed it up best.

"She said 'I don't think I deserve to get dropped from the singles, but you deserve a crack at it'. Unfortunately you can only have one rep."

Edwards said Smith had been fantastic about it and it hadn't affected their relationship or impacted on their work together in the pairs.  

It's an event the New Zealanders will be considered one of the favourites in too.

"Val's going very, very well at the moment and I get the odd one close. She sets the pairs up and she's been doing it fantastically in the preparation so we go in with really good confidence, but obviously nothing is a given."

Of her win over birthday girl and defending gold medal winner Natalie Melmore, Edwards was rapt, but surprised to have gotten off to a flying start.

She led 7-0 and 15-2.

"It was actually quite a difficult situation at the start," she said.

I just had to put my foot down, but no-one likes thumping someone. Though I knew she would come back, she's such a good player. To comeback like she did shows the pedigree of the lady. She's going to be a superstar."

"The win means a lot to me. I haven't had a beer since I've been in Glasgow so I might have a sneaky one."

Earlier the women's four of skip Mandy Boyd, Smith, Amy McIlroy and Selina Goddard won bronze - New Zealand's first medal away from the velodrome and the judo mat.

They beat Scotland 21-15, though the score flattered the Kiwis and didn't show how close the contest was.

Boyd was cool as ice when it mattered in a dramatic finish.

After being locked at 3-3, 6-6 and 9-9, the Kiwis pulled away to lead 16-9 with four ends to go and the bronze looked won. But the Scots pegged them back and the teams started the final end with the New Zealand four leading 16-15.

Down two shots in the final end, Boyd drove and hit the jack into the ditch. Scottish skip Margaret Lethem was unable to save the situation with her final bowl and the Kiwis picked up five shots.

"It feels unbelievable, it's like a priceless moment, unbelievable, it's perfect," McIlroy said of the win.

Smith, who at 48 is more than twice the age of her teammates, said the future of the sport was in good hands.

"The young girls, even though they lack the international experience, well, Mandy's had a bit now, but the others haven't... they're driven, they're very mentally strong, they're fearless."

Smith said the three had all been well served by Bowls New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand in their development and she expected them to only get better.

Meanwhile McIlroy and Goddard never doubted Boyd's composure when it mattered.

"I totally had confidence in Mandy," McIlroy said.

"She was playing out of her tree that game," Goddard added.

And she was; on three occasions Boyd turned around or limited heavy deficits with her bowls.

Scotland's Lethem said Boyd and her accuracy was essentially the difference.