Tyarn heading in one direction
ANYONE who has ever felt self-conscious plugging their fingers into a ball, stepping on to the platform in ridiculous shoes and delivering a 10-pound (4.5kg) ball with tongue out in concentration, can relate to Tyarn Clark's experience at the national finals last month.
Clark, 12, was one of four Grafton bowlers to travel to Lidcombe in Sydney to compete in the Australian Junior National Tenpin Bowling Championships from April 7-21.
And she came away the winner of the Restricted Masters, an event based on pinfall over eight games plus a handicap.
But it wasn't an easy win for the youngster, who had to line up at the 26-lane bowling centre for a play-off against a 16-year-old South Australian competitor.
"There was quite a bit of drama involved in the final. I've certainly never seen anything like it," Tyarn's father and coach Ashley Clark said.
"There was a mistake in Tyarn's score and when another competitor protested to the organisers, she was forced to bowl in a play-off.
"By this time the other lanes had finished bowling and there were more than 80 people watching on and cheering as Tyarn played the deciding game."
Clark came out of the pressure experience with flying colours and won the play-off match by two pins to claim the title.
"I was so nervous. I've never really bowled in front of a crowd like that," Clarke said.
"But my sisters and New South Wales teammates were cheering me on and I was singing to myself to help calm me down and keep focussed."
There are no prizes for guessing that the 12-year-old was humming a One Direction tune as she stepped in to bowl.
"I love them. We all love them. They're the best band ever," she said.
Older sister Shanita, 14, and younger sister Kiara, 10, also competed admirably at their first championships.
Shanita won gold in the B-grade teams event and bronze in the A-grade singles, while Kiara placed 16th in her first nationals in D-grade.
Fellow Grafton competitor and veteran of five national championships, Rachel Pearce, 14, also had a super week, winning gold in the B-grade teams and silver in A-grade teams and the C-grade doubles events.
She has won the Restricted Masters event that Tyarn claimed this year and said she was thrilled to see the title retained by a Grafton bowler that she considers her "sister".
The four Grafton competitors were part of the 293 juniors who participated at the championships, with all girls bowling plenty of frames.
The next big competition in junior tenpin bowling is the Sydney Cup U18 event in September, for which Shanita Clark and Rachel Pearce are preparing.