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Commonwealth Games 2002
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Bowls Saturday, 27 July, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Wood and Wilkins enjoy records
Bowler Willie Wood
Wood has been firmly in the spotlight in Manchester

Bowls veterans Willie Wood and Dai Wilkins are basking in Commonwealth Games record-breaking glory that could prove impossible to surpass.

Scotland's Wood has become the first sportsman in any discipline to play in seven Games.

And, while Welshman Wilkins has, in comparison, appeared at a mere five, it is now an amazing 32 years since his first.

Both veterans are going strong at Heaton Park as part of men's fours who lead their sections as they chase Commonwealth gold.

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It will be very difficult for anybody to beat my recor
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Willie Wood

Wood was even thrust into the spotlight before the competition began.

He and his bowls colleagues were angered by the team vote that handed opening-ceremony flag-carrying duty instead to cyclist Craig McLean.

But now Wood has turned his immense pride and passion for his sport in the direction of winning another Commonwealth medal.

He has already gathered a singles bronze in 1974, silver in the 1978 pairs, gold in the 1982 singles and skipped the fours team to an identical feat eight years later.

There were also career lows, such as his defeats in his two appearances in world championship singles finals.

And the 64-year-old insists that age will have caught up on his eyesight and legendary smooth throwing action before he gets the chance to play in an eighth Commonwealth Games.

"It is a great record to have as it is something that will be very difficult for anybody to beat," he said.

The Scotland team appeared to want a younger, more athletic figure to be their standard bearer and Games organisers have nothing planned to mark his record.

But Wood is simply proud to be recognised around the world for his achievements.

He was particularly touched by a letter of congratulation sent anonymously to him in Manchester by an old age pensioner from Edinburgh.

His hunger for more glory will keep him going at least until the 2004 World Bowls.

Meantime, he hopes to return to Australia in January to the Warilla club, whom he helped win the New South Wales Premier League last season.

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I am told that it is a record to have played in Commonwealth Games 32 years apart
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Dai Wilkins

"They are very professional in their set-up in Australia and the clubs are massive," said Wood, who is concerned at the fall in the numbers of outdoor bowlers in Scotland.

It was being deemed a professional in 1986 that prevented Wood defending his singles title in what would have been yet another Commonwealth Games appearance in Edinburgh.

Concentrating on playing centre for rugby clubs Neath and Glynneath meant that there was a gap of 18 years before Wilkins followed up his 1970 Games debut in Edinburgh.

Now he is hoping to at least repeat the bronze he won as part of the Welsh fours side in 1998.

"I am told that it is a record to have played in Commonwealth Games 32 years apart," said the man who turned 60 on Monday.

Wilkins' four made it two wins out of two with a 26-4 victory on Saturday over Malawi to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals from Group D.

Wood's Scotland side are still not certain of a place after the tape measure ensured a final-end single that gave Brunei Darussalam a 14-14 draw in Group C.

Fiji kept their hopes alive by defeating Scotland's next opponents, South Africa, with a similarly dramatic last-end six for an 18-17 win.

Australia and Canada top the other two sections.

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