Team Scotland bowler Margaret, 57: "We believe we will win medals, definitely."

BOWLS queen Margaret Letham has a glint in her eye as she talks about the Games this summer.

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Margaret Letham is eyeing up a Commonwealth Games medal
Margaret Letham is eyeing up a Commonwealth Games medal

Fiercely competitive and with more than 40 years experience of the sport, she is at top of her game as the current World Outdoors Fours Champion.

A former Commonwealth Games gold medallist, she knows what it takes to feel the weight of a medal round her neck, and it's a feeling she is very keen to repeat in Glasgow.

She said: "I won the gold in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1998.

"There were only two Scottish medals won in those Games, myself in lawn green bowls and Alex Arthur in boxing.

"It was an amazing Games. It is an amazing feeling when you stand up on the podium and your national anthem is playing and you have the gold medal hung round your neck."

At 57, Margaret is likely to be one of the oldest athletes competing in Glasgow, but in bowls, age counts for nothing, experience is everything.

She has been a mainstay on the greens since she was 15-years-old, when her dad first took her along to the local club.

There, the senior men showed her the ropes and she's been hooked on the sport ever since.

Now, with husband Hugh, 56, she plays regularly at Burnbank Hamilton Bowling Club, and will be practising at Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre - the Glasgow 2014 venue - every weekend until competition begins.

"Experience always helps when it comes to the sport of bowls," she says. "You only learn to cope with pressure by playing in competition.

"I like being up against the best - it brings the best out in you when you are playing the best in the world. You learn to cope with that."

Margaret has had a taste of glory on the Glasgow greens already, winning gold at the 8 Nations last year.

Unsurprisingly, she only has good things to say about the venue which has so far served her well.

Playing the game has taken her thousands of miles around the world to top venues hosting prestigious competitions.

"It has taken me to Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, South Africa, America. It has been a wonderful experience and I never thought I would travel as far round the world as I have with the bowls.

"It was a hobby to start with then I started representing my local club.

"After I started doing that, I thought I would love to play for Scotland in the International Series when we play the home countries, and I was selected when I was 30.

"At that time, that was young, because most of the bowlers were 50 or 60.

"There were no juniors when I played bowls, but I thought this is what I want to do, I'll play for my country once and that will be me, but I have been selected since 1986 ever since. It's amazing."

AS well as working full-time in the couple's floor covering business, Margaret finds time to practise every day.

She can always spare a few moments to help youngsters and beginners who try the greens and feels the sport is a great leveller "for everyone from five to 55" to enjoy.

Now, the chance to compete at a home Games has given her yet another opportunity to add to her medal tally.

"I am so proud to be part of Team Scotland," said Margaret, "especially when it is on home turf for the Commonwealth Games.

"This will be a one-off. I don't think Scotland will ever host a Commonwealth Games in my lifetime again. It will be tremendous occasion.

"We believe we will win medals, definitely."

matty.sutton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Sport

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