By Will Jennings
Boxing balls and nut Sam Tolchard feels he has all the tools necessary to deliver a knockout blow at the Commonwealth Games this summer.
The Newton Abbot star, 32, is preparing for a third edition of the Games in Birmingham after winning bronze medals at Glasgow 2014 and on the Gold Coast four years ago.
Tolchard’s younger sister Sophie, 30, is also part of the 16-member England squad as the bowls prepare to be thrust into the national spotlight once again on the ground at Leamington Spa.
Tolchard is a sports fanatic away from the green and hopes that taking inspiration from his heroes in the ring can help banish his bronze medal demons.
The Kings Bowling Club star and freelance electrician, speaking ahead of the big Bowls weekend from May 27-29, said: ‘I feel good and excited to start playing properly outside again.
“It will be good to start things off and build momentum ahead of the Games – we are improving as a unit as we move towards the Games.
“The only goal is to win and be on top of the podium. Everyone wants a medal, which is great at the time and you think it will be good, but I like to think I’m a winner.
“If you finish second and third, you might as well finish last.
“That’s my only goal – to win – and all we do is win and win a medal.
“Bowling is my sport, but I watch anything. I’m a huge boxing fan and follow it religiously. I also like golf and played cricket a lot when I was younger so I like that too.
“I’ve met Tyson Fury before and I think he’s amazing.
“He’s great, you never know what to expect from him and he clearly doesn’t know what to expect from himself either! He’s so tall and clumsy and dexterous for someone that size.
“He has good feet and good hand-eye coordination – if you put a bowl in his hand, I’m sure he’ll figure it out pretty easily!”
Tolchard took bronze in pairs alongside Andy Knapper in 2014 before winning the same color medal in Australia with David Bolt, Jamie Chestney and Louis Ridout in fours.
Seven national titles capped off a decorated career on the green with Tolchard – son of the late Devon cricketer and umpire Ray Tolchard – one of the undisputed stars of the England side.
The sport’s profile continues to grow and by the end of this month, over 750 clubs will be opening their doors for the big, innovative bonanza bowl weekend.
The weekend is a great time for families to enjoy the sport together and Tolchard hopes he can lay the groundwork for a golden summer of bowling.
He added: “This summer marks the Commonwealth Games on home soil, which makes it a bit different to others I’ve been to.
“The home crowd makes it really positive and this should be our best chance of winning.
“It’s a huge opportunity to grow the sport and the game – hopefully it’s not just us as athletes who will be successful and the spirit can evolve with this and to an even better place.”
Find your nearest participating club on http://www.bowlsbigweekend.com