Commonwealth Games 2018: Natalie and Jamie Chestney - the couple going for gold

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Meet the bowls couple bound for the Gold Coast

When you finally get married and settle down you are expected to do certain things together, like furniture shopping and gardening.

But one couple will be taking that concept to a new extreme next year when they compete for England at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Meet international bowlers Jamie and Natalie Chestney, who are also husband and wife.

"We both got selected for the Atlantic Championships in Cyprus in 2011 and we had a couple of practise weekends," recalls Norfolk-born Jamie on the first time he met his future wife.

Natalie, under her maiden name Melmore, was already a Commonwealth Games gold medallist from 2010, but lived in Newton Abbot in Devon on the other side of the country.

"I somehow managed to get hold of Nat's phone number and we were talking a little bit before we went out to Cyprus and things developed from there."

It is a relationship that has blossomed ever since, culminating in Jamie moving across England to be with Natalie a few years ago before the pair married in 2015.

Glasgow 2014 heartache

They both competed for England in Glasgow in 2014, and both suffered defeats in gold-medal matches - Natalie's loss in the women's pairs final came shortly before Jamie's big game with the men's fours started.

"I was watching it from the food hall on my phone," says Jamie of that August day in Glasgow.

Natalie Chestney at Glasgow 2014
Natalie Chestney won singles and pairs silver at Glasgow 2014

"I guess it's inevitable that it's going to happen, but psychologically that put me on a bit of a downer before my game - but I had another couple of hours to prepare so it probably made no difference in the end."

Natalie also lost the final in the women's singles, the title she was defending from Delhi four years earlier when she did not have her future husband alongside her.

"You cannot focus on anything else other than what you're doing," she said.

"It was great to have each other there for support before and after games, but when you're in that competitive zone you really just have to focus on nothing else."

Will they share in the athletes' village?

The pair did not share a room in the athletes' village in Glasgow - Jamie was with two of his team-mates, while Natalie shared with other female members of the England team - but that might change come the Gold Coast next April.

"It's an odd experience being away somewhere with your wife for three and a half weeks and not really, apart from in passing, spending any time together," said Jamie.

"That's something the management team have already spoken to us about this time and if it works where we're in one big shared house again then we probably will share this time."

Jamie Chestney at Glasgow 2014
Jamie Chestney won silver with England's men's fours at Glasgow 2014

Finding the time to fit your training, competition, meals and down time is hard - especially in a sport like bowls, in which you can play two games a day for days on end.

"Even on the Gold Coast we have eight straight days of matches if we're successful out of the group games," said Natalie.

"So I think it's really important to compartmentalise that game time versus your debriefs and your preparation for the next game, and spending time with your team-mates.

"Building those relationships are so important in that village environment and in the games, that you don't really have a chance to focus on anything else.

"It's a very odd experience and not something that you can prepare for, really."

Can they get more medals?

The faster greens in Queensland will favour the southern hemisphere nations, especially the hosts Australia.

Despite being amateur - Natalie works for a soft drinks firm and Jamie has been working for a firm that makes bowls - the pair went over to the Gold Coast eight months ago to play at the Commonwealth Games venue, so will not be venturing completely into the unknown.

"The British Isles teams are really good at adapting to other surfaces and we've got quite a bit of time before we play, we're there for a couple of weeks before the competition starts," explained Natalie.

"We have got a good opportunity to master the greens before we start competing, but we won't know as much as we did going into Glasgow."

Jamie has the World Indoors Championships at Potters to focus on early in the New Year, as well as the International Open in Blackpool and the Home Internationals just before they leave for Australia.

Natalie Chestney celebrates gold at Delhi 2010
Natalie won gold the the women's singles in Delhi when she was 21 years old

"I've got an ambition and that's gold," he says as he prepares for his second Commonwealth Games.

"I got a silver in Glasgow, which was great. I had a conversation with one of the guys from Canada, Ryan Bester, before we had some practise matches, and he'd already got a silver and a bronze form previous games and he said to me 'I'm here for gold'.

"I thought 'it'd be nice just to get a medal', but I do understand where he's coming from now. Glasgow was great, a silver medal was good, but I want to go for gold basically."

It is an ambition that is matched by his wife, who wants to reach the top of the podium again.

"If you play any sport at this level, then gold is everything," said Natalie.

"To come away with any medal would be amazing, don't get me wrong, but we're all hoping and aiming for gold because that's the sort of people we are.

"There's a lot of really good players that didn't make the team, so we want to make sure that we're proving we were the best people to pick for the job."

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