Prince bowls 'em over

30 July 2014 - 02:01 By Andile Ndlovu
HELLO KITTY: Prince Neluonde shows his form
HELLO KITTY: Prince Neluonde shows his form

Bennett Neluonde wasn't too keen on his son, Prince, taking up lawn bowls.

"To be honest I didn't take him seriously and I tried to convince him to look into first aid training, but he wasn't having it," said Bennett, the resident greenkeeper at Johannesburg's Bryanston Sports Club.

But Prince's persistence paid off and on Monday he and team-mates Pierre Breitenbach and Bobby Donnelly slayed Northern Ireland in the lawn bowls final at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

The trio snagged Team South Africa's sixth gold medal, defeating Northern Ireland 19-10. In the process, Neluonde, 30, became the country's first black bowls medallist on an international stage.

Thohoyandou-born Neluonde made his debut only in November, when he was named as one of a seven-man squad to play Namibia in Pretoria, becoming the first black South African to represent the country in more than 110 years of bowls.

Before then part of his job description at the sports club included tending the bar.

Because the new star's 63-year-old father and mother, Sarah, were in Venda, they were not able to watch the event live on television.

"He called me before the final and told me they had played well. I told him to keep it up, but I have not spoken to him since then. I'm so happy for him," said Bennett.

Until five years ago Neluonde would watch his father play bowls at the club. When he joined in coach Jac de Villiers would keep a keen eye on him.

De Villiers eventually took him under his wing and encouraged Neluonde to practise for two hours a day.