By Mark Etheridge
Part of the gold medal-winning triples team at the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi four years ago, Tracy-Lee Botha has moved on.
This time out she’s not playing in the trips but is an integral part of the fours and pairs combinations.
Bowls was a big part of Team South Africa’s medal haul of 33 at the last Games, and will once again hope to be on a roll as part of the campaign here.
Botha, just 25, still young at this highest level of the sport, is in a comfortable frame of mind here.
‘Everything is working well. In Delhi it was a bit of a case of sitting with mixed up emotions with things not entirely in place competition wise.
‘I’ve come a long way in my sport since Delhi and have definitely improved. I lead the trips in Delhi and now I’m third in the fours and leading in the pairs.’
This time round she’ll pair with Colleen Piketh and in the fours she’ll be part of a quartet consisting of Susanna Nel, Susanna Steyn and Esme Steyn.
In the pairs her and Colleen go back some way, having played at Bedfordview Country Club for the past four years and then at international level for the past two years.
‘We know what to expect here,’ she told Road to Rio 2016. ‘Obviously the draw is quite crucial but our biggest opponents will be Australia and Scotland. We start off with the fours and singles and the pairs will be a bit later.’
Only the first two countries in each pool go through but in the pairs it should be an easier route as they take on Norfolk Islands, then have a bye and then take on Samoa and Scotland.
The fours will be a tougher task altogether as they take on Norfolk Islands again, Canada and England.
‘We’re coming off winter greens in South Africa right now where the speed is around 16 seconds and they say that the Kelvingrove greens are running around 10-11 seconds. Personally I’d prefer around 12-13 seconds.
‘However, of the southern hemisphere sides I’d say our style will be easier to adapt to these greens but then New Zealand and Australia have both been playing here a week before us which makes a big difference.’
Drawn about her expectations for the Games, she was candid: ‘I’d be happy to take two medals home… preferably gold.’
Let’s hope it’s all systems gold for the young woman standing out head and shoulders in a game often described as ‘old man’s marbles.’