Jackie puts up a great bowls fight

Jackie Gibson, from the Thetford Staniforth Bowls Club, came tantalisingly close to winning the women's national singles title, only to be edged out by Devon's Natalie Melmore in a nail-biting final.

Jackie Gibson, from the Thetford Staniforth Bowls Club, came tantalisingly close to winning the women's national singles title, only to be edged out by Devon's Natalie Melmore in a nail-biting final.

Gibson, who lives in Thetford but works during the week in Enfield, where she is purchasing manager for a commercial glazing firm, played brilliantly to reach the final at Royal Leamington Spa.

Beating Hereford's Joyce Jones, 21-5, Northants star Jan Bradley, 21-15, England's Commonwealth Games team manager Mary Price, 21-17 and 1987 champion Norma May, from Cornwall, 21-11, she faced 21-year-old Melmore, who will represent England in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.

Melmore looked on her way to an easy victory when she led 16-5 but the 47-year-old Thetford ace hit back with two trebles followed by a double and four singles to lead 18-16.


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Gibson was now the favourite to win, but the Kings (Torquay) star re-discovered the road to the jack, and got home with a treble and a double.

“It's always disappointing to lose, but I am proud of what I have achieved this week,” said Gibson, whose best previous performance was winning the national Mother-and-Daughter pairs title at Leamington in 2006.

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Meanwhile, Acle St Edmunds bowler Geraldine Reeve, who is national president of the English Women's Bowling Federation, lifted her first national title at the association (EBA) code when she steered Gwyn Xuereb to the Bowls England women's over 55 title.

Reeve actually qualified for Leamington with another club-mate, Molly Auld, who underwent a cataract operation last week, so Xuereb came in as a substitute.

On their way to the final, the makeshift Norfolk duo swept past Hampshire 27-15, Surrey 25-18, Berkshire, 22-9 and Buckinghamshire, 17-8, and, in their hardest game, came up against England selector Gill Jones and her Durham colleague Teresa Pearson.

Trailing 2-5 after seven ends, Xuereb and Reeve struck with three successive trebles to lead 11-5, and kept their noses in front for a popular 17-13 victory.

Xuereb has sportingly resolved to give all the personal memorabilia connected with the finals at Leamington to Auld, whose operation was a success, but was not present to see the Norfolk pair triumph.

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