It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Corowa-Wahgunyah’s own Josh Thornton.
The talented lawn bowler took out the Australian Open Men’s Pairs title in Queensland last June, he married the love of his life, Kelli, on New Year’s Eve and next month he will compete in the Commonwealth Games.
Josh, who currently lives in Shepparton, came back to Corowa last week to spend time with family and visit schools to talk about his Commonwealth Games debut where he will compete in the athletes with disability (AWD) Triples event.
Thornton will play five sectional games that will run from April 5 to 9 and the top four teams will play in a semi-final on April 11, with bowlers to play for a medal on April 12.
The Free Press took the opportunity to catch up with the 36-year-old before he boards a plane for Brisbane where he and his team will spend a couple of days bonding and practising ahead of settling in at the Commonwealth Games village in Queensland that will be his home during the event.
Thornton knew he had been selected for the Commonwealth Games back in November but had to keep it under wraps for three weeks until the big announcement was made in Melbourne.
“It was hard to keep a secret because you naturally want to share your good news, but I was allowed to tell my wife and my mum and dad,” he said.
Thornton explained the process he went through to be selected for the Commonwealth Games.
“Back in October 2016 they picked a preliminary 12-man squad for the discipline that I was going to be playing in and we had a couple of camps and it was narrowed down to about seven,” he said.
“That seven stayed together until about last November and we played Trans-Tasman, we played multi-nations and had camps between then too.
“Everything we did during that period counted in one way or another in terms of how we played and results and all the rest of it.
“I think what helped me was obviously the Australian Open, because none of the other guys in my squad had won anything that big, so that probably helped put me over the edge.”
At the age of just 15, Thornton won the under 19 Victorian Bowls state championship.
Thornton said the biggest challenge in bowls is the mental aspect of the game.
“Mentally you really have to engage and be concentrating all the time, if there is for a second that you are not concentrating then you can really slip up, big time,” he said.
The last Commonwealth Games was held in Glasgow in 2014.
Thornton said there were perks to attending the event in your own country.
“My mum and dad are coming, my wife, my brother who lives in Shepparton will be there, I have aunties from here going up and I have two brothers in Brisbane so they will come too, so it has worked out well,” he said.
“I will have a good support base and I think that’s the good thing about having the event here, some people have said it was unlucky to have a home game, but I look at it the other way and think it’s amazing because almost everyone in my family is actually going.
“You know, so maybe if you are having a tough day out there, or something’s not going right, you can look into the crowd and you will get that support.”
The very smitten Thornton is still riding a high after tying the knot on New Year’s Eve.
“We got married in Kelli’s hometown in Swan Hill … it’s been a whirlwind 12 months,” he said.
“We bought a home in Shepparton about 18 months ago now, but I still call Corowa-Wahgunyah home… mum and dad still live in Wahgunyah and I grew up here.”
As Thornton reminisced about his childhood he said he was looking forward to visiting St Mary’s Corowa where he did his schooling.
“My year 6 teacher is still teaching there - Ruth Parkinson, but she was Ruth Reagan back in the day,” he said.
“Her first year at St Mary’s was our year 6 class and now I am going back there tomorrow to do the talk with the kids and I am looking forward to it.”
Thornton also has fond memories of Corowa High School where he completed his senior years.
When he wasn’t at school he could be found on weekends at the Corowa Bowls Club where he was a member of Corowa Services Bowls Club.
“There’s a big part of me that owes a lot of my bowling to Corowa Services Bowls Club,” he said.
“I started my bowls there, my grandfather was there and my dad still plays there.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the club, practising there and having that support.
“There are still a couple of my old teammates getting around there and playing.”