Lawn bowls champion Ellen Ryan was warmly welcomed at a civic reception to celebrate her wins in Australian ladies, singles and pairs titles this year.
Held at the Grace-Millsom Centre on July 21, Goulburn Mulwaree mayor Bob Kirk introduced several speakers who shared their years of insight and delight.
The council’s recreation facilities coordinator Scott Cooper remembered the primary school-aged girl who turned up to play twilight bowls with her family.
“Whatever lit the fire in you, I'm grateful,” the ex-bowls club manager said.
President of the Goulburn Railway Bowling Club Reg Thoms recalled “a 31-2 flogging” in mixed pairs, beaten by a 13-year-old Ryan and her uncle Dave. Thoms said the late Neil Thornton had, with wife Heather, taught Ryan. “He’d be proud. You’re a credit to yourself, our club and the community.”
Norma Drew, ladies president at Cabramatta where Ryan now plays, said her bowling style, demeanour and personality were “something to behold”. “We look forward to many more golden moments in her career, hopefully at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games,” in 2018, adding: “We've already booked our tickets!”
Cabramatta mentor Karen Murphy enthused about “the girl from G town”, nicknamed ‘Flash’ (from the animation Zootopia), and her “professionalism”.
South East Regional Academy of Sport coach James Reynolds said Ryan had “blitzed the competition. This girl could be anything and she's proven it.” Moreover, for all her talent, Ryan admirably had “the work ethic to match it”.
Assistant coach to the national lawn bowls team, the Jackaroos, Gary Willis joked he couldn’t “dish any dirt” on Ryan as “the love and respect is mutual”.
For her own part, Ryan said she felt “very special to be recognised” and was a little awed that so many family, friends and fans had rolled up in support.
She thanked those who gave “time – and pointers” as she developed.
This included her employer Goulburn High School for their ongoing support, and the Coles distribution centre, which had given her parents special leave and petrol vouchers for Ryan’s travel expenses over years.