Goulburn lawn bowler Ellen Ryan has landed in the United Kingdom ahead of her Commonwealth Games debut.
At 25, Ryan is the youngest member of the 18-strong Australian Jackaroos squad.
She said she’s excited to finally be in Birmingham where she can practice on the typically slower, heavier local greens.
“I’ve just landed in England and it’s starting to feel very real now,” she said on Tuesday night (12 July) Australian time.
“I’m really excited to get started already.
“I’ll be at a two-week staging camp to prepare and get some good practice on the UK greens.”
Ryan will fly the Australian flag in the marquee women’s singles before pairing up with her best friend Kristina Krstic from Western Australia.
She’s looking forward to wearing the green and gold and doing her country, and hometown of Goulburn, proud.
“I can’t wait until I get into the village and see all the other athletes and get to open up my Commonwealth Games bag with all my kit,” she said.
“The nerves are starting to set in now but I’m so keen to get out there and give it my all for my teammates and the rest of Australia.
“It’s always been my dream to represent Australia at the commonwealth games not only for myself but my family who have also put in the hard yards getting me to where I am.”
With a mix of former gold medallists and emerging talent, the Jackaroos are seeking to add to their golden reputation at the Birmingham Games to be held from Thursday 28 July until Monday 8 August.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council has provided Ryan a $5000 boost from its Financial Assistance Grant Funding.
Mayor Peter Walker said Ryan was an outstanding athlete and a great ambassador for her hometown.
“Ellen has notched up more than 100 caps for Australia so far in a remarkable career, and I am thrilled that she will make her Commonwealth Games senior debut in Birmingham,” Cr Walker said.
“When you look at what she has achieved on the greens so far, it’s hard to believe Ellen is only 25.
“I am sure Ellen has a long and fantastic career ahead of her.
“I know that all of Goulburn Mulwaree will be cheering on Ellen in Birmingham, along with the rest of the Australian contingent.”
Ryan said the funds would help her purchase recovery items and ensure she is financially stable during her month in the UK.
“I can’t thank the community enough for all their support over the years,” she said.
Ryan started playing bowls in 2008 at the age of nine, inspired by her mother who is also an avid bowler. Her first significant bowling achievement was winning club minor pairs with her mum.
She took the Australian under-18 singles title in 2012, gold in the triples in 2013 and 2014 and gold in the pairs in 2015. That year also yielded the Australian Open singles title and selection for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa where the then 18-year-old won gold in the mixed pairs and silver in the girls’ singles.
Ryan works as a school learning support officer and a retained firefighter and enjoys riding her horse and playing touch football and soccer.