Reggae Rollers are off and rolling at the Gold Coast Games

Andrew Newell, Jamaica’s first international lawn bowls player

Jamaica is now officially established as an international lawn bowls-playing nation, thanks to the work of a player who learned the game at a club in south London.

Andrew Newell and Merv Edwards made the island nation’s bowls debut at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in the men’s pairs competition on Thursday, just a matter of weeks after Newell completed the paperwork to have Jamaica accepted by the world governing body.

And while the “Reggae Rollers” may not have caused any upsets in their group matches against the likes of South Africa, the Isle of Man and Wales, they are fulfilling the Olympian dream of it not being all about the winning, but the taking part.

And anyway, after taking part in the opening ceremony, they’ve been stopped in the lift at the Athletes’ Village by former world champion sprinter Yohan Blake, so they have made their mark in some ways.

Yohan Blake: stopped Jamaica’s bowlers

Newell, who learned the game on the indoor rinks of a bowls club at Anerley, represents Jamaica again in the early hours (London time) of Monday morning in the men’s singles, when his first game is against New Zealand’s Shannon McIlroy.

“It was a pleasure to compete in the world stage with some of the world’s best countries,” Newell told Inside Croydon after the pairs event.

“Seeing the Jamaican flag flying high above the Broadbeach stadium and actually having a team to represent them for the first time in history is beyond belief. Not every day can you put your name down in real history.”

Newell, 44, has been playing for about 14 years. “I went to my local park in London and just stuck at it ever since,” he said. “It was sort of calming, like chess on grass.”

Birmingham-based Edwards said, “We’re the Reggae Rollers and we’re rolling well.”

And now he’s a Commonwealth Games competitor, Newell is looking out for his next meeting with Blake. “Maybe he’ll want to get a selfie with me.”

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