Clevedon's Branfield embraces growing expectation after 2021 double

Stef Branfield won the women’s two-bowls and four-bowls titles at the Bowls England National Finals in Royal Leamington Spa.

Stef Branfield won the women’s two-bowls and four-bowls titles at the Bowls England National Finals in Royal Leamington Spa last September. - Credit: Bowls England/Sportsbeat

Clevedon bowls star Stef Branfield is embracing growing expectation following two national triumphs in 2021.

Branfield, 29, won the women’s two-bowls and four-bowls titles at the Bowls England National Finals in Royal Leamington Spa last September, becoming just the third person to complete the ‘double.’

That success led to her being named Bowler of the Year by Bowls England, an accolade that came about after two decades of hard work on the green.

“It was a massive moment. I’ve been playing 20 years now, so to finally get and win one national title was a dream, so to win two was just amazing,” said Branfield.

“Never would I have thought to do two in the same year. It’s been my life for a long time and I’m glad to have finally achieved it. There’s always work you can do to get there.

“There’s always lots of people that have done many things during every year. Every national winner could be Bowler of the Year but I exceeded everyone by winning two, so that was amazing too.

“It just topped off what I had already achieved for the year.”

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Branfield’s success led to her being named in England’s squad for the European Championships that take place in Ayr this July.

Though aware there may be more pressure on her, she hopes to enjoy new experiences that her national triumphs have presented.

She said: “It’s given me a bit of a boost to carry on working hard and see what other opportunities there might be within the sport.

“Obviously expectation is there now. I just want to keep working at it and see if we can do something this year. That would be the plan.

“I’m really looking forward to the Europeans. I’ve been playing with the other team members for a while. We’ve known each other for a long time, so it will be good to have that and being given that opportunity following my successes, it’s really exciting.”

“At the moment there are no expectations, it’s to go out there and enjoy it and hopefully do well as a team. Getting a medal will be an absolute bonus really.”

Branfield was speaking ahead of the upcoming Bowls’ Big Weekend, which will see clubs across the country hosting special events from the May 27-29.

“With the Commonwealth Games going on, it’s a good opportunity to promote our sport and it’s the event that can be promoted with that and around the country,” she said.

“It can be a really big event. All the clubs can get involved and hopefully all the clubs will gain a few members.”

Find your nearest participating club at http://www.bowlsbigweekend.com.