Olivia Cartwright makes GVBD history

By Tyler Maher

History was made at Mooroopna Bowls Club on Thursday.

Kyabram’s Olivia Cartwright wrote her name into the Goulburn Valley Bowls Division record books with a performance which even the most seasoned of bowlers would struggle to manage.

Down 9-20 in the Champion of Champions singles final against one of the most accomplished bowlers this region has ever produced — GVBD Hall of Famer and state representative Jean Sprague — Cartwright clawed her way back into the contest before claiming a 25-24 victory to become the youngest ever champion in the division.

‘‘It was exceptional,’’ Cartwright’s father David said.

‘‘You put yourself in her shoes, at 14 years of age against a state representative and one of the best ladies bowlers this district (has produced) and 20-9 down, to get up and be able to win will probably go down in the history books as one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

‘‘I think it just comes down to her ability to draw her way out of trouble. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to come back from the situation she was in and win it.

‘‘She’s over the moon. I still don’t think it’s sunk in what she’s accomplished.

‘‘Just the mental toughness to be able to deal with the situation of not only making the final but to come back from the position she was in, was exceptional.’’

For 14-year-old Cartwright, the title is not only another in a growing list of achievements this season in a summer where she has burst onto the lawn bowling scene in spectacular fashion, but proof that age is no barrier when it comes down to two bowlers going toe-to-toe on the mat.

‘‘She could be 20 down or 20 up and her attitude doesn’t change, it’s one of her greatest assets,’’ David said.

‘‘She gives her opponent nothing to work with even though inside she’s probably churning; and it was against one of her idols too, she looks up to Jean very much.

‘‘Jean was the one who encouraged her to train for the division representative side and now she’s made the region side in Jean’s rink, and she played her in pennant earlier this season and got over the top of her.

‘‘The occasion got to her a little bit at the start but I think it helped that Jean wasn’t an unknown to her.’’

As well as representing Victoria, claiming a state school title, gaining her first open GVBD start and earning her stripes as a skipper with the Power, Cartwright will make her division one debut today and soon represent Central Goulburn Murray Bowls Region alongside Rushworth’s Sprague.

But none of it would be possible without the work that the rising star puts in behind the scenes.

‘‘Everyone was telling her she didn’t have to train afterwards, but she didn’t walk off of the green until 8.30,’’ David said.

‘‘She’s definitely getting out what she’s putting in, she works so hard and trains so hard.

‘‘We can’t thank the Kyabram bowls club enough for the opportunities they’ve given my family and other kids in town, we’re loving it.

‘‘(My wife) Naomi and I are along for the ride, there’s always one of us at least at training with her, and we know there’s going to be some losses along the way but we’re just celebrating the wins as they come and enjoying it.’’