Willie Wood (bowler)
26 April 1938 |
Gifford, East Lothian
William "Willie" Wood MBE, (born 26 April 1938 in Haddington, East Lothian) is a Scottish professional bowls player, who has mainly competed in the outdoor or lawn form of the game. His list of achievements include two Commonwealth Games gold medals and two World Bowls Championship runner-up medals. He was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Life and sports
Wood took up bowls at the age of 12, perhaps unsurprisingly as his father, grandfather and mother all played the sport. With little else to occupy his time, Wood says he elected to bowl in his home village of Gifford, rather than brave the bus journey to the swimming baths at nearby North Berwick.
Wood undertook his national service with the British Army, joining aged 18, serving in Germany with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He later ran his own garage before concentrating on bowls.
Wood first represented his country in 1966 and in 2002 became the first athlete to compete in a 7th Commonwealth Games. His Commonwealth Games career included a singles bronze in 1974, a silver in the pairs in 1978, individual gold in 1982 and a captain's role in the 1990 winning fours team. The feat is even more remarkable as, had internal politics not forced him out of the 1986 games (held, ironically, in Scotland), Wood could have competed in more. After refusing to be reclassified as an amateur, the Scotland team decided not to select the World Championship runner-up, denying him the chance to compete in Edinburgh, at a bowling green just metres from Tynecastle Park – home of his beloved Heart of Midlothian FC. In 2002, Wood was reported to be disappointed that Team Scotland athletes voted to give cyclist Craig MacLean the honour of carrying the flag at the opening ceremony, despite Wood's record-breaking achievement. Aged 72, Wood was included in Scotland's team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, extending his record to an eighth games, and making him the oldest competitor at the games.
He competed in the finals of the 1984 and 1988 World Bowls Championship (held every four years), missing out by millimetres to Peter Belliss of New Zealand in 1984 on home soil in Aberdeen. He was back in the final four years later in Auckland, New Zealand but was beaten by England's David Bryant. Wood competed in nine World Championships in total and has an impressive collection of fifteen World Championship medals in singles, pairs, triples and foursomes, most recently a gold medal in the triples at the 2008 event in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Wood also competed in over forty home international events and won several national titles.
In 2007, Wood became the first bowler to be inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. Wood retired from international bowls in 2011, although he intends to continue to compete at national level. His final act as an outdoor internationalist was to help Scotland retain the Home Internationals Series for a recording breaking forty-second time. Woods retired with an impressive total of 134 outdoor caps to his name.
He was awarded the MBE for services to sport in 1992. He has also written an instructional book, A Bias to Bowls, which was published in 1990.
- "Weekend birthdays", The Guardian, p. 49, 26 April 2014
- "Willie Wood", Commonwealth Games Scotland, retrieved 2011-07-07
- Cyriac, Biju Babu (2010) "Great Scot! At 72, Willie Wood oldest athlete at CWG", Times of India, 29 September 2010, retrieved 2011-07-07
- Lindsay, Clive (2002) "Wood and Wilkins enjoy records", BBC, 27 July 2002, retrieved 2011-07-07
- Berkeley, Sam (2011) "Willie Wood hangs up his Scotland cap", East Lothian Courier, 30 Jun 2011, retrieved 2011-07-07
- Hannan, Martin (2010) "Veteran Willie Wood unfazed as first Scots head to India", The Scotsman, 26 September 2010, retrieved 2011-07-07
- Woods, Jon (2007) "Evergreen Wood to celebrate milestone", Daily Telegraph, 27 June 2007, retrieved 2011-07-07
- "The End Of An Era – Willie Wood Bows Out", Commonwealth Games Scotland, 1 July 2011, retrieved 2011-07-07
- "WILLIE WOOD BOWLS OUT ON A HIGH". Taylor Bowls. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2015.