2022 National Championships - Stage 1 Stars: Maria & Gary Prunty
Next up in our National Championships qualifier stories is the father and daughter pairing of Maria and Gary Prunty, who have qualified in the Mixed Pairs together for this year’s event.
Maria will be the youngest competitor at this years event at just 9 years old. What makes this achievement even more incredible is she only started bowling back in April 2022 when the season began. When asked about his daughters journey into bowls, Gary said: “Maria is 9 years old. She threw the first jack to open our green in April then decided to go and play six ends with me which resulted in me talking her into playing the National Mixed Pairs.
“Maria has only played four competitive games of bowls in her life which were our qualifying matches for Northfield. She is a very shy girl and playing bowls has brought her out her shell which is great.”
The duo play out of Airdrie Central Bowling Club, a small but hugely successful bowling club in North Lanarkshire. There is also plenty of bowling pedigree in the Prunty family as Gary’s dad and Maria’s grandpa, Jim Prunty, recently won the British Isles Men’s Over 55 Fours at Llandrindod Wells BC, Wales.
Gary has already enjoyed a successful season personally being a part of the Lanarkshire South team that won the 2022 Andrew Hamilton Trophy earlier this month. As well as the Mixed Pairs, he has also qualified in the Men’s Fours with Martyn Jenkins, Kevin Goldie and Paul Kane Jnr and will be looking to improve on the bronze medal they won in 2019. Speaking about his own bowls career, Gary added: “I also started bowling at 9 as I would play if there were an odd number of players whilst I was at the club watching my dad.
“The best thing about our sport and why I would encourage youngsters to play is that no matter what level you play at, you can play against internationalists or world champions. There’s not many, if any, sports where you can do that.”
It’s sure to be a memorable occasion when Maria and Gary take to the green together on Monday 18th July at 1pm to compete in there first Mixed Pairs match. Gary insists that the result is not important and they’re both looking to enjoy the game. He said: “Our results at the National Championships don’t matter as Maria has only just started bowling. I just hope she enjoys the occasion, she has plenty more years to qualify.”
Congratulations to Maria and Gary and we look forward to seeing you compete at the National Championships!