Carol gives lawn bowls a new look
By GEOFF ROUNDS MEET Carol Ashby. This is how lawn bowls looks in 2007.
The days of the blue-rinse set dominating the greens are long gone.
Now it is edgy, sexy and hot.
Just like the 39-year-old Ashby, the glamour girl of English bowls grabbing headlines on and off the greens at the World Team Cup at Tweed Heads Bowls Club this week.
Ranked in the top three woman players in the world, she is visiting Australia for the first time and is determined to change the stuffy image of lawn bowls to become the sport's first sex symbol.
Ashby first spiced up lawn bowls when she took to the electric blue carpet of the World Bowls Tour (WBT) in 2005 with figure-hugging attire, tattoo and lip, cheek and nose studs.
This very modern look immediately turned heads and she backed up her modern image with stunning form on the carpet, much to the amazement of the normally sedate world of women's bowls.
She has been featured in the British press, including the racy London Sun, and on the BBC.
"It's just me being me, I guess," Ashby said. "I don't see why I should conform to someone else's idea of how players should look.
"We need more glamour in the game and I'm just trying to give it a sexier image.
"I like to stay in shape and I guess it's a little unusual in this sport that I'm a woman bowler with tattoos and body piercings.
"I've always been comfortable with my look and it's accepted now."
Ashby, who is competing in the England Invitational team with Catherine Popple and Katherine Hawes, was the 2002-03 WBT female singles champion and is a four-time English Indoor national singles champion.
She was England's Indoor International Player of the Year from 1999-2001 and became the first woman to beat a man in a major World Indoor bowls event when she triumphed over Australian Mark McMahon in the 2005 International Open.
Bowls Australia commercial operations manager Des Ryan welcomed Ashby's image in the sport.
"I think it's just what the sport can use, a bit of glamour," Ryan said. "I don't think it hurts at all."