It’s hard to believe that carpet bowling is a sport done in relative silence once you meet Renate Krieger and Carrol Williams.
These two talkative, joking, vibrant women have just returned home from the Ontario 55+ Summer Games and they’ve got some serious hardware to show off. Together they won the gold medal in carpet bowling at the games that were held in Windsor at the end of August.
Sitting in Tim Hortons in Bancroft with some friends in tow, wearing their gold medals for full effect, the All Ontario Carpet Bowling Champions share the story of their big win, their love for the sport and their journey to the final match against a tough pair of carpet bowlers from Brampton.
Carrol and Renate work well as a pair, finishing sentences for each other. Which might be why they carpet bowl so well together – always knowing what the other is about to say or do. Carrol has been enjoying carpet bowling for 16 years. They met nine years ago when Renate came out to give the game a try in Cardiff.
The Cardiff Community Club is where the ladies practice and play two times each week. And the club has quite a bit of talent. In order to get to the games they had to compete at the district playoffs against 19 other teams and while Carrol and Renate easily took the gold, other Cardiff Community Club members took home silver and bronze.
With their win, experience and a desire for adventure, the two women set off for Windsor for the Ontario 55+ Games. They enjoyed staying at Caesars and were not shy to say that there were two whole floors of casinos. Asked if the slot machines would have been good training for carpet bowling, Renate says that Carrol only played the penny machines and since that was only pushing a button, she saved her arm for the big competition.
Carpet bowling requires skill, strategy and silence. At the club four people will form a team but in competition it’s down to two players, the Lead and the Skip, who take turns rolling their weighted bowls down a 30 foot henselite carpet to get as close to a jack as possible.
“You have to know how the carpet runs,” Carrol says. “You have to know how to turn the bowl and it’s all in the wrist.”
Renate says it’s all in the brain.
“It’s all strategy,” Renate laughs.
Arriving at the competition the ladies had no idea who they would play against but there were competitors from each of Ontario’s 32 districts. On the first day of competition the ladies played seven games. They lost three of the games and thought they were out of the running but on their second day they were unstoppable.
For the ladies, recounting their tale at Tim Hortons, it is hard to believe that the game they excel at is one played in silence.
“There’s no talking, only gestures,” Renate says. “It was really, really difficult to be quiet.”
And then there is also the pressure of competition to deal with. Renate says she was very nervous but Carrol was totally relaxed. When they went into the gold medal game at the end of their second day they had concerns about their competitors. They had heard they were tough competition and that they were in it to win. But with 16 years of carpet bowling experience and lots of medals, Carrol went for the gold.
“It was the big game so I psyched them out,” Carrol says of her competitors. “They couldn’t do a thing. We were unstoppable and we won 16-1.”
With all the excitement in the final game Renate didn’t even realise that the pair had won the gold.
“I had to ask Carrol if we won,” Renate says, still laughing.
With the medals presented there was nothing left to do except enjoy the awards dinner and then make the long drive home. Carrol had been texting updates and photos to the Club members and everyone was excited about the gold medal win.
When the women finally arrived back home in Bancroft it was late. Renate’s husband Fred, also a Cardiff Community Club carpet bowler, was already asleep but he left a big sign for Renate saying “Welcome Gold Medal Winner, I’m Proud of You!” Fred even had flowers ready for Carrol.
Both ladies say it was a great experience and they can’t wait to start playing and competing again. They look forward to many more competitions and medals in the future.