The Israeli national team and two Jewish Australians were in the thick of the action at the 2023 World Bowls Championships in the Gold Coast from August 29 to September 10.
With 44 nations and more than 540 players and coaches participating – and the inclusion of para and blind bowls – it was the biggest world championships yet.
Due to being postponed for three years, World Bowls opted to scrap the usual qualifying process, so that extra nations could participate and gain invaluable experience.
The eight-strong Israeli team had mixed results, winning 21 round-robin games, losing 25 and drawing one.
Their men’s fours line-up of Danny Alonim, Selwyn Hare, Dani Slodownik and Allan Saitowitz placed third out of eight on the section 3 ladder.
Their next strongest result was fourth out of seven in women’s triples section 1, by Ruti Gilor, Amaliya Levy and Karni Amit.
Israel’s co-coach Colin Silberstein told The AJN, “The games were challenging, as we were playing on very quick surfaces compared to back home.
“Having said that, our team adapted pretty well and we were very close to qualifying for the play-offs in two disciplines.
“Overall, it was a great experience, in an amazing country and we hope to be back!”
Melburnian Gary Lasky co-coached Turkiye’s able-bodied team and volunteered for Thailand’s wheelchair squad, which he described as “very rewarding”.
He said apart from two experienced players, the Turkish team had four players in their 20s and four teenagers, who until recently only played bocce competitively.
“I only had three days of pre-tournament training with them and because the only lawn bowls facility in Turkiye was recently demolished, they’d been practising on carpet rolled onto a basketball court,” Lasky said.
“But what this youthful team lacked in experience, was made up for by their raw talent and infectious sense of enthusiasm.
“One of their players, 26-year-old Bahar Cil, won three of her seven singles games, including one versus a Commonwealth Games silver medallist [Lucy Beere of Guernsey].”
Adelaide’s Garry Benveniste – who bowled for Australia at last year’s Maccabiah Games – was one of 50 International Technical Officials working at the worlds.
“I was doing daily marker duties and while it was full on, it was very enjoyable,” Benveniste said.
“There was a great atmosphere, especially in the opening ceremony, when the teams formed a huge semi-circle and players jumped up in excitement when their country was introduced.”
Benveniste, who umpired at the sport’s 2023 Australian Open in June, will next officiate at the nationals in October in Perth.