TONY Parkinson, second from the right, joins the men’s and women’s teams to show off their hard-earned trophies. Photo supplied

ALONGSIDE bowlers from across the Bay of Plenty, Opotiki’s own Tony Parkinson helped his bowls team take the top spot.

Parkinson and seven others accomplished this, competing in the annual Aotearoa Bowls Rohe Challenge at Frankton Railway earlier this month.

With a men’s and women’s team and four players per team, the group represented from Opotiki to Katikati to Turangi in the lawn bowls challenge.

The teams made a strong performance at the challenge, taking first in both the men’s and women’s divisions, as well as taking the overall winner’s trophy.

With more than three decades of experience in the sport, Parkinson said he had selected his team-mates, and took a risk with some new talent.

“I had a guy in there that only started bowling last year, so I took a bit of a risk, but it paid off,” he said.

In the challenge there were eight men’s teams and women’s teams from across the North Island, with one men’s team representing the South Island.

“Each rohe sends their best teams,” Parkinson said.

He said the challenge was held over two days in a round-robin format, so each team would face all the other teams in their division.

“Our women’s side has always been really strong,” he said.

“And to have a first-year bowler in there more than matching guys that have been playing for years, that was really great to see.”

This is not all Parkinson has been up to this year, however, as he also took runner-up in his division in the Aotearoa National Maori Bowls.

“I’ve won it before,” said Parkinson.

Parkinson said his debut in the sport came in 1985, after playing rugby league for some time and sustaining his fair share of injuries.

Since then, he said he had competed at regional and national levels several times, as well as training up the next generation of bowlers.

This includes two Opotiki College students last year, Jordan Tolhopf and Trinity Munro, who Parkinson trained up to attend the Bay of Plenty Secondary Schools’ Championships for lawn bowls.

“I think I’d only been training them for three weeks, and Trinity got third in the girl’s side,” Parkinson said.

“They picked up on it really quick.”

Parkinson said he did not want this to be the last time, however, and was looking to train up some more young bowlers in Opotiki.

“Just looking to see what we can do for the kids,” he said.