June 18, 2011

Eestlanna is Champion of Champions

Riina Bradbrook (nee Saral) won the Women’s Singles competition at the Australian National Lawn Bowls Champion of Champions Titles contested in North Launceston, Tasmania in November 2010. The win capped off a very successful year in which she also won the Holdfast Bay Club Singles, Metro Singles, South Australian State Singles and South Australian Champion of Champion Singles along with a Silver medal in the National Side’s Championship. She will now don the Green and Gold uniform to represent Australia in the International Champion of Champions tournament in Hong Kong in November 2011.

Riina was born in 1947 to parents Maimu and Uuno Saral while at the Marktredwitz Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. She migrated to Adelaide, Australia in 1949 with her parents and two sisters, Katrin and Piret. Riina married Ian Bradbrook in 1969 and has two children, Cheryl and Steven, and five grandchildren.

While sitting on the sidelines watching both her husband and son bowling at the Ascot Bowling Club in 1989, she was encouraged to participate by the renowned lawn bowler, Paul Richards. The late champion remains the greatest influence on her career and as mentor gave his pupil not only the inspiration to play but also to win. In 1994-95 when, with June Dahlitz, she won the State Pairs title, Richards was on the sideline in support. It is an image that remains as a powerful vision in her bowling life and one reason for her determined and uncompromising approach to the game.

When asked why she enjoys the singles form of the game, she answered very quickly that “In Singles the responsibility is on me. No-one is responsible for me and I am not responsible for anyone.” This attitude along with a confidence in her own ability and a knowledge that she “doesn’t have to prove herself to anybody” give some insight into why she is such a fierce competitor.

She has also represented Australia in the 30 foot mat indoor version of the game picking up two Gold Medals in the Women’s Pairs against New Zealand. There is also an ethereal side to her personality and a visualisation of the numbers 11 and 11, which appear frequently in her life. Over the last four years she has often looked at a clock at exactly 11:11 am or pm or for no reason at all glanced at a bowls score which shows the teams at 11.11. It is an unexplainable set of circumstances but the numbers take on even more significance after her most meritorious win in the National Campion of Champions Titles on the 11/11/2010.

A veteran of 179 State games and 13 consecutive National Round Robins, Riina is not yet ready to pack up her bowls cloth. She has been a member of home club Holdfast Bay for 17 years and is proud of her long tenure. Her aims for the future include a desire to represent South Australia in over two hundred games and to take on an active role as a State Selector at the end of her career.

Acknowledgement: Adapted from an article by John Bevin in the South Australian Bowler Magazine Dec2010/Jan2011.

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