Bowls: Dunham qualifies for girl trouble

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The Independent Online

Scott Dunham could be regarded as a dark horse for the World Singles Indoor Championship next February after winning his qualifier on Sunday. In doing that, however he deprived Gemma Broadhurst of the distinction of being the first British woman to qualify for the tournament.

His achievement has put him firmly in the doghouse, however - as Broadhurst is his girlfriend. The pair, from Spalding in Lincolnshire, came up against each other in the final of the qualification event at Erewash in Nottinghamshire.

Broadhurst, 21, an England Under-25 international, had already beaten two men to get to the final, and was a clear favourite with the crowd, but her boyfriend of five years had failed to read the script, and prevailed, 8-1, 6-2. He will therefore play in the World Championship, which is being held at Hopton in Norfolk.

Broadhurst is one of several young women on the England scene who are keen to test themselves against their male counterparts, following in the footsteps of the flamboyant 35-year-old, Carol Ashby.

The two have previously played on the same side, helping Spalding to the English National Inter-Club Under-25s title, but had never played against each other competitively. "I should be ecstatic, having got through to the World Singles for the first time - but instead I feel guilty about knocking out Gemma," Dunham said after his victory. "Do you think she has forgiven me yet?"

He described the experience of facing his girlfriend. "It was really weird. We've practised together so often, but this was the real thing. She was the crowd's favourite - the little girl versus the bad guy. The umpire jokingly threatened to rule one of my four bowls out of the match, leaving Gemma with a one-bowl advantage."

It was an equally daunting experience for Broadhurst, who said: "I tried to forget who I was playing - but it wasn't easy. One woman cried out, 'Give him a good stuffing!' I don't think he was a popular winner, bless him."