Womens European Golf Croquet Championship
Glynis Davies & Michelle Leonardby Michelle Leonard at Latvia
12th August 2022 (International)
The women's Golf Croquet Championships were held at Ikskile and Sigulda, Latvia. There were three lawns at Ikskile and one at Sigulda. Nearby was the Spa Drops Hotel which provided nearly all the accommodation for the players.
Competitors came from Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, England and Latvia, consisting of a total of 28 players.
Glynis Davies and I were the only entries from England, therefore received a membership place in the competition. It was at the Women's open at Surbiton, that I persuaded Glynis to come with me and like the good sport she is, she agreed!
It was self-funded by ourselves, unlike the Spanish players who were given 600 Euros each towards their travel and hotel expenses!
The Latvian hospitality was second to none, transport was provided from and to the airport and every day from the hotel to the two croquet clubs. Entertainment was provided with a boat trip on the Friday night and a dinner on the Saturday night.
The opening ceremony started with a parade of the players holding their national flags, with a several Latvian dignitaries and even the Irish Ambassador was there, followed by a band and a buffet and drinks. All the players were then presented with a welcome bag containing an embroidered European 2022 Women's T shirt with our names and country on the back, a cap, drinks bottle, a fan, a stress ball, a name badge and a booklet detailing the players and playing schedule.
It was all live streamed and recorded and uploaded on to social media.
The following day the games commenced and Latvia was in the worst heat wave that they had ever experienced with temperatures reaching 34 degrees. It was hot! The tournament consisted of four blocks with the top four qualifying for the knock out stage. Both myself and Glynis made it through into the Championship knockout.
I progressed winning through the last 16 and also won my quarter final, whilst Glynis lost in the last 16 knock out.
Glynis went onto lose in the Bowl final to Ireland's Jane Morrison.
I reached the semi-finals, but unfortunately was affected by the heat and got heat stroke and could not attend the evening dinner which by all accounts was a very good night.
I did play in the semi-final but lost to my Spanish opponent who I had previously beaten in the blocks. I was eventually placed in fourth place after losing in the playoff for third and fourth place.
The Championship final was won by another Spanish player Begona Elzabura.
The closing ceremony was as good as the opening ceremony and enjoyed by everyone. The friendliness of the games was outstanding for example one the Spanish players, (there were 10 of them) gave me a Spanish club badge for being the only player to have beaten her. I have made new contacts with Ireland and Germany and look forward to seeing them in the future.
It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend anyone male or female to enter a tournament abroad like this as both Glynis and I made some new friendships from the different countries for a long time to come.