2016 Professional World Indoor Bowls Open Singles Champion

January, World No 1, Nick Brett beat World No 4, Rob Paxton in the final of the 2016 Professional World Indoor Bowls Open Singles Championships. In doing so, Nick, had achieved his ultimate aim of winning the
top prize in world
indoor bowls.

Held just outside Great Yarmouth, at the Potters Resort in Hopton-on-Sea, the 2016 world indoor championship saw an all English final for only the third time since the tournament had been introduced in 1979. Having already seen off the legendary Scot, David Gourlay in an enthralling semi-final; 6-7, 7-6, 2-1, Nick went on to defeat Taunton’s Rob Paxton, 9-9, 12-9 in the final to lift the trophy.
Nick (41), who plays for the Huntingdon Indoor Bowls Club, is not only a world champion, he is also a Civil Servant based at RAF Wyton. And, as readers of Eagleye will know only too well, nobody at Wyton gets away with becoming the best at what they do without Eagleye sticking its nose in, and getting its two pennies-worth! Fortunately for us, Nick was still on a high when we spoke to him, and we were able to persuade him to give us the following interview:
Tell us what you do as a Civil Servant here at RAF Wyton?
Although I’ve been a Civil Servant for over 25 years, before my arrival at Wyton this year my whole career had been spent at RAF Alconbury. My new job is as a Requirements Manager for DIO’s Overseas’ Programme, Projects and Delivery office, a job I’m very much looking forward to, and one I hope will be the next step in my career.
Do you live local to Wyton?
I was born in Warboys, but now live in Yaxley with my wife; Sam, and daughters; Lauren (17) and Chloe (15). Sam works in Peterborough, hence our move to Yaxley, which is apparently halfway between Peterborough and Wyton – or so Sam tells me!

Interview with Nick Brett

When did you take up bowls?
I first played when I was 12. My dad introduced me to outdoor bowls at his local club in Warboys, and it wasn’t long before I was making up the numbers in league matches when they were short.

Did you realise then that you had what it took to be good at the sport?
Although I took to bowls quite quickly, I particularly enjoyed playing against the old boys in the club, listening to all their stories, and learning how the village pub operated!

Were you good at any other sports when you were growing up?
I enjoyed most sports at school, and even played U17s county cricket. However, cricket was more of a distraction for me, as I quickly realised that I was quite good at bowls.

When did you start playing indoor bowls?
I first played indoor bowls at Huntingdon Indoor Bowls Club when I was 13, and it wasn’t long before I was playing in the local league. In 1991, when I was 16, I won the clubs U40s tournament, which I went on to win nine times in succession.

How did you compare to others your age?
In 1997 I won the National Outdoors Junior (U25s) Championship, and I followed this up in 1998 by winning the National Indoor Junior title, along with the Outdoors and Federation titles, thereby completing a clean sweep of the three bowling codes.

Were you able to follow up this success in adult competition?
In 1999, I followed up my success in the Junior outdoors event by winning the Senior’s version of the National Outdoors Championship. I then won the British Outdoor title in 2000.
I assume this was just the start of your success at national level?
As well as being an England International, I have won a number of national events, including; 3 x Singles’ titles, 3 x Pairs, 2 x Threes, 3 x Fours, 3 x Mixed Pairs, and 2 x Mixed Fours. However, it wasn’t until the 2015/16 season that I reached top spot in the world rankings.

Your family must be very proud at the success you’ve had?
Yes they are – my dad especially, although he sadly passed away in 2013. However, having taught me to play, he and I would compete together when we could, and he wasn’t too shoddy a player himself. We took part in the Father and Son National Indoor Championships several times, winning the title in 2001 and 2003.
Apart from your dad, who else inspired you while coming up through the ranks?
Without doubt the likes of David Bryant, Tony Alcock, Richard Corsey, and Andy Thomson, all four of them winning the world championship three times each. As a kid I would try to emulate them, but I never thought back then I’d do what I’ve done now. It just goes to show that dreams really can come true.

Do any of your family play bowls?
Yes, it’s very much a family affair. When Sam and I met, her attitude was very much one of “if you can’t beat them, join them”, and both her and the two girls play county outdoor bowls.
How much training do you do in the lead up to a competition?
In the run up to the 2016 World Championships, I was training 3 or 4 days a week, playing for between 2 to 3 hours each time.

Is bowls a physically demanding sport?
Mentally, it can be very taxing, constantly trying to outwit your opponent. I’m no Usain Bolt either, and a succession of tournaments can take their toll physically. Tournaments can begin at 08:30 in the morning and might not finish until 10:30 at night. Sometimes you’ve got up to 5 matches to play, and you certainly feel it the next day.

Can you sum up how you felt winning the World Championship?
It was an amazing experience. My mum, my family and my friends were all there for the final, and I have to admit, they made more noise than everyone else put together, much to the dismay of everyone else! It must have been fantastic for my mum. To think, 30 years earlier she spent many a cold damp evening sat in a carrier bag on the side of a bowls lawn, watching me play in some village in the middle of nowhere! There was a tinge of sadness though that my day couldn’t see me lift the trophy. However, a month before he died, he got to see me win my first world bowls tour title in Scotland, something I’ll always hold dear to me.

So what next?
Do it all over again in 2017! I always try to do things more than once; that way, nobody can say your last success was a fluke. It will be down to desire and fitness as to how long I’ll play. But, while I’ve got the support of my family, work commitments allow, I stay fit and healthy, and I still enjoy playing, I’ll carry on.

Nick Brett is not only No 1 in the World, he is one of the most respected players on the World Bowls Tour circuit. In deed, in recent years he has won both the ‘Player of the Year’ and the ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ trophies. In addition to his latest success in the 2016 World Singles Championship, he has won the 2014 World Pairs title with Greg Harlow, and won three World Bowls Tour titles. Thank you Nick. Best wishes for the future – Ed