The 2018 NSW Gateball Championship, hosted by Canberra, saw gateballers from five states represented at a gateball competition for the first time. Gateballers travelled from Queensland (Bruce McAlister), Victoria (Kerrie Seipolt, Trish Watts, Philip Brown, Gilon Smith and Elaine Coverdale), South Australia (Geoff Crook, Trish Crook and Ann Hassall) and for the first time, Western Australia (Torben Bak and Bethwyn Johnson). In addition two experienced players from Korea competed while visiting their daughter and her family in Canberra. Teams from NSW/ACT also attended the event including from Newcastle and Toronto, Sydney, Jamberoo, Lithgow and Canberra. In total 63 gateballers competed over the three days.
The weather was overcast and mild and the four gateball courts looked and played well with black painted lines used at Canberra for the first time.
On the Friday nineteen pairs competed in four blocks to qualify for the semi-finals. Three of the four block winners progressed undefeated. In the semi-finals John and Penny Park defeated Glen and Kristina Whitehead 10-9 while Moonki Kim and Yongsoon Yeh defeated Bryan Johnson and Gilon Smith 23-7.
The final was played on Sunday in front of a crowd of 60. John and Penny took an early lead and through accurate hitting late in the game won 15-7.
The teams competition was tight with all teams recording multiple wins and losses. The leader board was dominated by Epstars and Jamberoo throughout Saturday but on Sunday the Canberra Mavericks and Kew started to chase them down as they recovered from slow starts.
The final rounds saw Epstars defeat Jamberoo and Canberra Mavericks defeat Kew to secure positions in the final.
The Epstars won the toss and elected to lead and quickly piled on scoreboard pressure with accurate hitting. After a couple of false starts the Canberra Mavericks got control late in the game but it looked like the change had come too late. Trailing 14-7 at the start of the last turn Peter Freer nearly snatched victory by sparking two balls through gate 2 before going through himself, he then sparked a ball through gate 3 and after going through himself missed a ball near the peg by a matter of millimetres that could have secured the win. Congratulations to the Epstars on their second NSW Championship.
The Canberra Mavericks were awarded the best new team as they were the highest placed team with gateballers competing in their first competition (Torben Bak and Craig Oxley).
Thanks to IGA Ainslie for sponsoring the event, thanks to Judy Tier and all of the Canberra volunteers who ensured a smoothly functioning event and thanks to all the gateballers who travelled to Canberra.
The 2019 NSW Gateball Championship will be held on 20-22 September with Taree hosting for the first time.
Photos by Peter Freer, Glen Whitehead and Kim Schranz.