Pat embodied Games spirit
WITH the Commonwealth Games under way in the region and local hopes such as Savannah Fitzpatrick, Gabrielle Nance and Dylan Wotherspoon vying for gold medals, there is no greater time to remember one of our original Commonwealth Games champions: Pat Smith.
Born in Murwillumbah in 1920, Pat passed away last year at the age of 97, leaving behind a resume of sustained excellence befitting a true champion of Australian sport.
Her career as a lawn bowler took her to the top of the sport. She won a Commonwealth Games silver medal in Edinburgh, 1986, the Australian Singles title and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for service to women's lawn bowls.
Pat was sadly missed during the Commonwealth Games build-up - it would be hard to think of a more worthy Queen's Baton bearer and spiritual stalwart.
In August 2000, Pat was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in recognition of her achievements as a state representative from 1972-1987, and a national representative player at the 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games.
A champion at state and national level and an active member of the Murwillumbah Women's Bowling Club, Pat first competed at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982 in the ladies' triples. The Brisbane games were the first at which ladies' lawn bowls was an official sport. The team narrowly missed out on the bronze medal.
Four years later at the Edinburgh Games in 1986, the Australian team had greater success. As captain of the ladies' fours, Pat won silver alongside fellow team members Clariss Power Audrey Hefford and Betty Schenke.
But this sheer level of achievement isn't why Pat is considered so important. In her 50 years within the bowls community, her presence, guidance and dedication to her various bowls affiliations is remembered fondly.
"Pat was a very friendly lady and helped many new bowlers,” said Mary Mummery, a past president of the Murwillumbah Bowls Club.
"Pat would help all the new players and make them feel welcome.
"As a coach she was a great mentor. She played bowls with my mother - she would remember the bowls my mother used - and she talked me into playing.
"She was just so passionate and dedicated.”
Pat Smith generously allowed a number pieces of memorabilia associated with her Commonwealth Games success to be placed on public display at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre for a number of years and formally donated them to the Tweed Regional Museum collection in 2012.
The most valuable of these is her silver medal, engraved on one side '1986 XIII Commonwealth Games Edinburgh Scotland' and, on the reverse side, 'Bowling Women's Fours Patricia J Smith'.
A green and gold Australia hat ribbon embroidered with Pat's Australian Women's Bowling Council badge pinned to it, along with a cream wool cable knit vest, part of the 1986 Australian team's Commonwealth Games formal uniform, are now all treasured items in the Tweed Regional Museum collection.
These items ensure that Pat's achievements as one of Australia's most decorated and dedicated sports people are preserved within the Tweed community. And there is no greater time to remember Pat, and her 50 years of lawn bowling as a player and coach, than during these Commonwealth Games, where Australia's finest athletes continue her grand tradition.
Club member approximately 50 years
Coaching 12 years
Singles x 21, Pairs x 17
Triples x 6, Fours x 13
Gold Coast District L.B.A.
Singles x 6, Pairs x 3
Triples x 1, Fours x 2
Champion of Champions Singles x 3
Champion of Champions Triples x 1
Represented Queensland in 6 different test series
Represented Queensland in 5 different round robin series
Represented Queensland in Australian Games
Won State Champion of Champion Singles
Won Australian singles
Runner-up Australian Pairs
Test Series in Fiji
Commonwealth Games in Brisbane
Pacific Games in Tweed Heads
Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh (silver medal)