Success Series: Mark Wilson Claims Glory at the Hong Kong Classic!

Success Series: Mark Wilson Claims Glory at the Hong Kong Classic!

What an incredible triumph for Ireland’s Mark Wilson at the prestigious Hong Kong International Bowls Classic 2023! The seasoned campaigner fought off a stacked field to clinch the coveted men’s singles title.

As Mark reflected, winning this event has been a long-held ambition: “I was lucky enough to attend the Hong Kong Classic in 2014 and 2015, and was meant to go back in 2019 but that event got cancelled. So I was delighted to be given the chance to go back again as I didn’t think I would get another opportunity to play in this wonderful tournament.”

And what a performance it was from the Irish star. Facing off against the current champion of champions silver medalist Issat Shameer in the final, Mark drew on his extensive experience to produce his “best game of the tournament.”

“Approaching the final I knew Issat Shameer was going to be the favourite as he is the current world bowls champion of champions silver medalist, bronze medalist in the world bowls pairs in 2023 and represented Malaysia in the triples and fours at the Commonwealth Games. This took the pressure off me and I just hoped to stay with him. It definitely was my best game of the tournament.”

Mark’s path to glory was not without its challenges though. The team faced travel chaos just to get to Hong Kong, with delayed flights and overweight luggage causing disruption.

“Actually, a few difficulties – Tommy, Ann and myself had no hold luggage booked on the flight and my luggage was overweight at the airport. We missed our connecting flight from Heathrow to Hong Kong on the day we departed as our flight from Belfast to Heathrow was delayed…but thankfully Tommy was on hand to be the calming influence on the rest of us as always, remaining very tranquil in tense situations.”

Then in the opening round, Mark was nearly derailed by a scoring error from the rink marker, only for team manager Tommy Smith to step in and resolve the tense situation.

“When the singles competition started, in the first round the rink marker made a mistake and we ended up playing 8 ends not 7 ends. I was in control of the second set at a stage and then the marker made the error and was not for changing his mind and accepting he had made a mistake. Luckily Tommy Smith was with me behind the rink and Tommy had a very calming and placate influence during the stressful situation.”

But Mark kept his composure, drawing the crucial shot to secure a 2-0 set victory and momentum for the rest of the tournament.

The Hong Kong event is renowned for its world-class field and exceptional hospitality, something Mark experienced first-hand.

“HKLBA do a fantastic job organizing and hosting this tournament. They arrange a field of high profile competitors and the local players are very good bowlers, you definitely cannot underestimate them. The host venues are fantastic with great lunches and dinners in between games and cannot do enough to help the players. From start to finish it’s an unbelievable event.”

Importantly, Mark also credited the excellent support structures in place back home through the Irish Bowls Federation and Sport Northern Ireland.

“I have been very fortunate to have been selected on bowls tournaments now which have given me confidence within my own ability and knowing the selectors have faith in me. We are given regular drills training to complete which helps in tournament play. Sport NI provide us with workshops where they advise on nutrition during tournament play.”

The IBF have and continue to put a lot of work and effort into the regional bowls academies and the new pathway programme to find the stars of the future. “I would encourage any aspiring bowler to continue to practice their bowls drills which builds muscle memory and repetition for game situations. These also provide you with live data on what you are good at…but also informs you what you maybe are not so good at which is even more important to work on these parts of your game so you can improve.”

An inspirational triumph for Mark Wilson! He’s shown the true grit and resilience required to win one of the sport’s most coveted titles. Let us know your thoughts on his success in the comments below.

Sport NI

Lawn Bowls Association of Hong Kong, China


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