Wales Women’s Bowls Team Manager Hazel Wilson is ‘surprised and honoured’ to be representing her country at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Hazel has been Team Manager since being appointed in 2009, and juggles her bowls duties with her role as Study Support Assistant Manager for Powys Campuses (at NPTC Group of Colleges).

Her time in the sport has seen her travel the world for many major competitions, with a great deal of success along the way.

Hazel’s first triumph as manager came at the Atlantic Games in South Africa in 2009, when she saw Wales bring the team gold medal home.

Wales Women also won gold in the pairs and a silver in the triples competitions, during the Bowls World Championship in 2016. Wales finished 2nd out of 32 nations, just pipped by Australia.

Hazel was also appointed Commonwealth Games Team Leader for lawn bowls last year, and is now delighted to be heading out to the Gold Coast in April. She leads the team for the women, men, visually impaired and para bowlers on their journey to the Gold Coast.

“It’s always a surprise and an honour,” she said after the confirmation of her place on the plane to Australia. “I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t been picked because I have been doing this role for over a year, but it’s never guaranteed that you’re going.

“I have been to Delhi and Glasgow (Commonwealth Games), so I have experience of a multi nations games. Delhi was first a fantastic experience and a real eye opener as to how a Commonwealth Games works. The Glasgow games was a different experience on home soil as more athletes got to go from Wales.

“And the Gold Coast is going to be amazing as well.”

It is not just the Welsh bowlers that Hazel hopes to help bring success. She also hopes to use her experiences to inspire the students she sees on a daily basis at Newtown College and across NPTC Group.

“I don’t know whether the students are aware, but I hope they are interested and I want to try and inspire them.

“I didn’t go to university, I went to college, did a secretarial course and this sport has led me to the achievements I have made.

“I just want to inspire people to do things they want to do and show them what they can achieve from whatever background and from whatever area they live.

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“It is hard work. There’s lots of paperwork, emails, training, lots of things to sort out, but I am reaping the benefits of what I put in. It’s a great honour to play for and manage your country.”

Hazel isn’t the only person heading to the Gold Coast from Newtown College. Sports lecturer Andrew Davies will be representing his country when he tackles the marathon out on the Gold Coast.

Both will be working hard in preparation in the coming weeks and months, with Andrew heading out to Spain for warm weather training.

So what about Hazel’s preparation for the bowls?

“It’s not as exotic as that!” she said when asked if her preparation would be similar to her colleague’s. “We went to the Gold Coast last June, so we’ve already trained on the Commonwealth bowling greens which allows us to put in proper training for the games on indoor bowling surfaces. NPTC Group have been absolutely fantastic in allowing me to do this and balance it with my job, they have been really understanding and supportive.

“Members of our team are going to personal trainers to get fit. I know sometimes people think bowls and fitness don’t go together, but actually they do because you’re out on that bowling green for hours in the heat and you’ve got to be fully fit and hydrated if we’re going to do well.”

So, with a lot of medals already collected by the team, what is Hazel hoping to achieve in Australia?

“Personally, a medal in the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle. But it’s also to enjoy the experience for all the players and I’m looking forward to supporting them.”

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