Goulburn lawn bowler Ellen Ryan will return home from the UK today (Wednesday) with two Commonwealth Games gold medals hanging proudly around her neck.
Ryan said she’d shed a tear when she drives past the iconic Big Merino, but she couldn’t wait to get home and hug her dad and sister after winning the women’s singles and the women’s pairs competitions in Birmingham.
“I know when I was driving out of Goulburn past the Big Merino I cried. I’m sure I’ll do the same thing on arriving back home,” she said.
“The Goulburn community has truly been amazing. I can’t thank everyone enough for all their support.
“I can’t wait to celebrate with you all and share all my amazing memories.”
And celebrate she will, with Goulburn Mulwaree Council planning a street parade to honour their home-grown bowls superstar on Friday 26 August.
Mayor Peter Walker has labelled Ryan the “Golden Queen of Goulburn”.
“Ellen’s in our Sporting Hall of Fame and she’s been our princess in waiting,” he said. “Now she’s the Golden Queen of Goulburn.”
“It still feels so weird, I don’t know what has just happened,” she told Region Media following the win.
“I can’t believe I have won a Commonwealth gold medal with my best friend.”
The team skip said her last bowl was for her teammate and lead – and it’s one that will go down in Australian lawn bowls history.
After a shaky start against England, Ryan came back strong for the Jackaroos with a final bowl which knocked out the home team’s lie and claimed the gold medal at Victoria Park.
“Wowee, what a great game to be a part of and credit to the English girls for a great game,” she said.
“I keep reliving my last bowl, and seeing Krissy and Kaz run up the green. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish.
“I keep thinking what has actually happened? It’s such an amazing feeling.”
Ryan kept her cool during the tense final and she said her coach and partner helped calm her nerves.
“I’m a pretty chilled person at the best of times, but definitely my coach Kaz and Krissy helped a lot,” she said.
The pairs win comes after Ryan won Australia’s first-ever Commonwealth gold medal in the women’s lawn bowls singles, writing her way into the history books last week.
The singles win once again saw the Aussie hold her nerve right till the end, narrowly pipping competition favourite, Lucy Beere from Guernsey, in front of a capacity crowd.
Cr Walker said he watched both games on television with bated breath, but said Ryan’s talent of leaving her fight till the end had him on the edge of his seat.
“She’s got to stop leaving it till the last minute, it’s not good for my blood pressure,” he laughed.
He said the town parade would be held from midday on 26 August, with school students, businesses and community groups invited to cheer Ryan on as she is paraded through the main street of Goulburn en-route to a “special ceremony” to be held at the bowling club.
“Everyone in the community is really stoked,” Cr Walker said.
“Even people that aren’t traditional bowling people are proud that she is part of our community.
“She’s a genuine country girl that, when she puts her mind to something, she works very hard to achieve it.”
Winning Commonwealth gold has been the Goulburn girl’s dream since she rolled her first bowl down with her mum at the age of nine.
“It’s been my long term goal since I started playing bowls,” Ryan said.
“My dream was to always play at the Commonwealth Games, but to win two gold, wowee!”
Ryan said she started believing she could make the Jackaroos team when Bowls Australia sent five girls and five boys to the UK for a multi nations series in 2017.
“I was lucky enough to play with Aussie legend Kelsey Cottrell in the pairs which we came home with gold and then I got silver in the women’s singles,” she added.
At 25 years old, Ryan was the youngest member of the 18-strong Aussie Commonwealth team and she now has her sights firmly set on the World Bowls competition that will be held on Queensland’s Gold Coast next year.
Ryan works as a school learning support officer at Goulburn High School, is a retained firefighter and enjoys riding her horse and playing touch football and soccer.