Les Gillett enjoyed a monumental fortnight at the World Indoor Bowls Championship, winning the pairs title and reaching his first-ever singles semi-final, writes Dominic Picksley.
The 46-year-old, who plays out of Melton IBC, beat former world champions Alex Marshall and Darren Burnett on his way to the last four befoe succumbing 11-4, 5-5 to eventual champion Paul Foster on Saturday morning.
Foster, who also won the title in 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2011, was maybe a game too far for the 15th seed, but he bowed out gracefully from the tournament, knowing he could compete with the world’s best.
“I am disappointed, but I thought I drew really well and he played some really good stuff,” said Gillett.
“I’m not making any excuses, but I’ve had a cold all week and it got the better of me today.
“I felt a bit rough out there. I still played well, but not quite as consistent as I have been.
“I probably didn’t live up to the standard I have been playing. He deserves his place in the final.”
The week started sensationally for Gillett who won his second world pairs title – 16 years after the first with Mark McMahon.
Welshman Jason Greenslade was his team-mate this time round as they beat Welsh pair Dan Salmon and Damian Doubler 7-7, 8-6 in Monday’s final.
Greenslade clinched the match with a dramatic wood – after some coaching from the Melton bowler.
“I wanted to slow Jason down,” Gillett said. “He was off to the mat like a rat down a drainpipe and I needed to say something positive, so I simply told him this was the best chance he would ever have of winning a world title.
He added: “I never even watched because anything can happen with Jason. I’m just really pleased for him.”
Gillett only rejoined the world’s top 16 two years ago after four years in the wilderness, but produced superb singles performances to stun second seed Marshall in round two, on Thursday, and then Burnett in Friday’s quarter-final.
Gillett bowled well in the semi-final and led 4-3 after four ends of the first set, but some relentless drawing saw Foster win the next five ends to take a one-set lead.
Unbowed, the Leicestershire man fought back in set two and took three of the first four ends, but the Scot again hit back with four shots in three ends to take a two-shot lead with two ends to play.
Gillet picked up a single on the penultimate end and needing two shots on the final end to take the match into a tie-break, he delivered a couple short, giving himself an almost impossible task with his final effort.
He managed to get the shot to tie the set, but it was not quite enough.
Gillett said: “If you had told me at the start of the tournament that I was going to walk away as pairs champion and semi-finalist in the singles, I would have bitten your hand off.
“I am pleased and obviously disappointed as well, but it’s all positive. I have also gone up the rankings nicely so that’s another positive.
“I’m not going to be worrying about people ranked 16, 17, 18 or things like that so it’s all good.
“I have come away this week believing I can compete with the best and I will continue going and hopefully cause a few more shocks along the way.”