Burkett rolls back years after pairs win

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2006, 12:00am

South Africa's evergreen champion Neil Burkett is reconsidering his decision to retire from international bowls after he teamed up with Wayne Perry to snatch the pairs title at the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic yesterday.

The 58-year-old Burkett had meant to retire at the end of the year, but now says he could continue playing after the South Africans defeated Ireland's Jeremy Henry and Paul Daly 18-13 in the final at Craigengower Cricket Club.

'It's lovely to win here. Everybody thinks you're getting too old, but there's still life in the old dog,' said Burkett, who has one of the most remarkable records at the Classic having reached six pairs finals in 10 attempts. He also won the pairs competition here in 1996, partnering Gerry Baker, but this time he teamed up with 24-year-old Perry, who won his first Classic title at the first time of asking.

'I have been here 10 times now,' said Burkett. 'I have done well and I've had wonderful support in Hong Kong. Year in and year out, the same friends come out to support us. It's wonderful.

'I officially retired from the South African bowls squad after the Commonwealth Games in 2006 [Melbourne]. We won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal. But I think after this week I would have to reconsider. You don't win in this company if you're over the hill. It was very tough, but we just hung in there and won,' added the South African.

Burkett and Perry's victory also denied Irishman Henry a rare double after he won last week's singles title at the Hong Kong Football Club.

South Africa reached yesterday's final after defeating Hong Kong's Noel Kennedy and Heron Lau Hiu-ngo 18-13. Ireland reached the final by beating New Zealand's Paul Girdler and Matt Gallop 22-15.