A dazzling array of local and international talent is gearing up to hit the rinks when the Yallourn Classic Singles lawn bowls tournament returns for its 20th edition.
Among this year’s participants is a veritable who’s who of past winners including inaugural champion Neville Brown, Charlie Ward, last year’s victor Chris Le Lievre and four-time winner Barrie Lester.
They will be joined by Australian ace Aaron Wilson, who last month tasted international glory on debut when he helped Australia to its first men’s pairs title at the World Bowls Championships in Christchurch.
Bowling in tandem with Gold Coast roller Brett Wilkie, Wilson won gold in the men’s pairs after defeating the Irish duo of Gary Kelly and Ian McClure 18-7.
This year’s edition of the Yallourn Classic kicks off on Monday, 9 January before concluding with finals on Thursday, 12 January.
Bowlers will compete for a total of $12,120 in prize money, with $3500 going to the winner and $1500 to the runner-up.
The Bowls Australia tier three tournament also provides ranking points for the last 16 players.
The winner will receive 72 ranking points, while the runner-up gets 48 and the losing semi-finalists 24.
Tournament director Michael Holroyd said spectators could expect a mix of international, national and local talent.
“This is our 20th (edition), we’ve stood the test of time,” Holroyd said.
“We’ve got a good reputation for providing good competitive bowls.
“You go up the Gold Coast and they speak highly of us – most of the top bowlers are keen to come and they’re keen to win.”
An additional event will this year highlight some of the sport’s up-and-coming talent.
“We’re doing something new this year, we’re having a junior classic singles on the Wednesday and the Thursday,” Holroyd said.
“It’s to provide a bit more interest as the tournament goes on.”
Moe 23 year-old Lisa Phillips leads the local contingent, with Yallourn legends Alan Grubb and George Lambos also set to compete.
Old favourite John Snell from Lilydale will also return.
After living in Lakes Entrance for a number of years, Holroyd said Snell had become a popular figure among the Gippsland bowls community.
The first two days of the event will feature 48 players facing off in 16 sections of three players.
The bowlers in each section will battle it out among themselves with the section winner progressing to Wednesday’s knock-out round.
Semi-finals will be played Thursday morning before the grand final in the afternoon.