Glasgow 2014: Baker Jennifer Dowds hoping to taste success

By Nial FosterBBC Sport NI
Jennifer Dowds

Take a generous measure of talent, add some determination and plenty of experience, pick the best team-mates, sprinkle in some luck - and stir well.

Ballymena baker Jennifer Dowds believes she has the right ingredients to be in the mix for a medal at this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

At the crack of dawn she is in the kitchen doing the day job, spreading flour, beating eggs and kneading dough. Five days a week she churns out scones, pastries and all sorts of treats an athlete probably shouldn't eat.

But it is with a bowl of a different kind that Dowds hopes to fulfil her sporting dream.

The beauty of the Commonwealth Games is that ordinary people with everyday jobs have the chance to compete at a high level alongside professional athletes. And Dowds is desperate to make the most of her opportunity at Glasgow 2014.

Barbara Cameron will be competing at her fifth Commonwealth Games
Barbara Cameron will be competing at her fifth Commonwealth Games

"The Commonwealth Games are as high as we can go because bowls is not in the Olympics," said 54-year-old mum Dowds who has been playing bowls since 1995.

In Glasgow there will be eight gold medals on offer across the men's and women's singles, pairs, triples and fours, beginning with a round-robin format before the knockout finals.

Dowds will be competing in the triples and fours at the picturesque Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre alongside fellow Ballymena Bowling Club members Barbara Cameron and Donna McCloy.

Glasgow will be Barbara's fifth Commonwealth Games as she previously competed in Victoria 1994, Kuala Lumpur 1998, Manchester 2002 and in Melbourne 2006. She's never won a medal but is hoping that a 'home' games will help in her pursuit this year.

"To get on the podium would be a highlight, a dream come true," said the experienced Cameron.

"I have been to four previous games, and was close before but just didn't make it, so hopefully this time we will be on that podium."

Donna McCloy and Jennifer Dowds were pairs partners in Delhi four years ago where they finished in a disappointing seventh position and Dowds believes the conditions played a part in their below-par performance.

"It was just after the monsoon, it was warm. The insects were on the green, you were walking over the top of them. It was really, really tough especially for us to adjust to."

Over the years, bowlers from Northern Ireland have won 18 medals at the Games and the ladies class of 2014 can count on their sense of friendship, on and off the green, as they strive for victory in Scotland.

"You have to be able to work with each other," said Donna McCloy.

"Jennifer is in the kitchen where she's working on her own. It is just her and the mixer, but when she is out on the green there are other girls. If somebody plays a bad bowl you give them a pat on the back, you say 'don't worry about it, there are more bowls to come' and you just keep the camaraderie going."

If experience is the key ingredient for success this year, the ladies from Northern Ireland could well be on the podium.

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