Gary Kelly is writing himself into the history books

·2-min read
Gary Kelly is competing for Team Northern Ireland at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Gary Kelly wants to be the man who delivers Northern Ireland a bit of Commonwealth Games history.

It's been a week to remember in Birmingham with a guaranteed 15 medals across a range of sports meaning the team have already equalled their best previous haul from the 1986 Games in Edinburgh.

Kelly swatted aside the challenge of South Africa's Jason Evans 21-12 in the semi-final of the lawn bowls men’s singles and now faces Malaysia's Fairul Abd Muin in the final four.

But while a medal is what he wants, he's looking to upgrade the bronze he won 12 years ago in Delhi.

And two more wins would end a 24-year wait for a Northern Ireland bowls gold, dating back to Gary McCloy, Ian McClure, Martin McHugh, and Neil Booth's fours success in Kuala Lumpur.

"I know all the players that have represented Northern Ireland over the years and to do something they achieved would be very special, but I need to not look too far ahead," said Kelly, competing at his third Games here in Birmingham.

"Northern Ireland bowls is in a fantastic place now. We've worked hard to develop the regional academies and squads and it's paying off here.

"It's a fun and exciting team to be a part of and when you are feeling good and happy that can't hurt your performance."

Four years ago, Norther Ireland didn't make the bowls podium, seven of the ten-strong team are making their debuts here with Kelly, 33, the elder statesman.

He took control of his match against Evans from the start, and quickly built a commanding advantage. Australia's Aaron Wilson, the defending singles champion from the Gold Coast, also progressed and will play Scotland's Iain McLean in the other semi-final.

"It's fantastic to reach the semi-finals, these are the best guys in the world, and I've given myself a guaranteed shot at a medal," added Kelly, who is unbeaten after winning every group game.

"Confidence is good and to have won every game so far doesn't hurt but it's not getting any easier from here. I just need to stay focussed and keep trusting my own ability.

"I got to a really good starting and was able to control the game, I settled into the game well."

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