One of New Zealand’s greatest sporting achievers has called time on her career.
Bowls legend Jo Edwards announced her retirement, after two decades at the top of her sport.
There have been many illustrious names grace our greens over the years but none have a record to match Edwards, regarded as the best bowler this country has produced.
Edwards is a double World Champion, after triumphs in Scotland (2004) and Christchurch (2008) and has three other medals at World Championships.
She has won three Commonwealth Games gold medals in Manchester (2002), Glasgow (2014) and Gold Coast (2018).
Edwards has also collected an unprecedented six World Cup singles titles and was part of the Blackjacks team that took out the Bowls Premier League in Australia in 2015. And if that’s not enough, Edwards has also amassed a record 646 caps since her Blackjacks debut in 2001.
Edwards made the call to retire mid November, though the idea had been percolating for a few months.
“People have always told me ‘you know when you know’ and that is definitely true,” says Edwards.
“It’s always going to be hard and there is a definite sadness, but I also feel happy. It’s been 23 years – nearly half my life and this is perfect timing.”
The 50-year-old admits the decision wasn’t easy and followed weeks of tough conversations with her husband (and former national coach) Dave, but it is the right call.
“The  World Championships event was always an aim,” says Edwards. “But it didn’t go ahead this year and who knows about 2021. But I also wanted to give Bowls New Zealand time to put together new teams and I knew if I wasn’t fully committed then it wasn’t going to work.”
Edwards is enthusiastic about the next generation.
“There is a real depth in the sport” says Edwards. “There are so many good players on the scene coming through.”
Long time former national coach Dave Edwards identifies three keys to Edwards’ incredible success.
“She is a talented sportsperson no doubt and has excelled in other sports before Bowls,” says Edwards.
“But she was also incredibly dedicated to preparation; she used to talk about coming back from tournaments with ‘no what-ifs’. And she had an unbelievable hunger and desire...she found a way to win.”
Edwards admits it is hard to put into words what the sport has given her.
“I’ve been so lucky,” says Edwards. “The success you have, the people you meet, the places that you get to see.”
“It’s been a lot of hard work and there has been a hell of a lot of people involved in that. And thankfully the selectors always had faith in me.”