Karen Murphy opens up about her decision to retire from international bowls

Shoalhaven Heads product Karen Murphy in action for the green and gold. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA
Shoalhaven Heads product Karen Murphy in action for the green and gold. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA

IN terms of lawn bowls in Australia, few, if any, can rival what Shoalhaven Heads product Karen Murphy has achieved on the greens.

So it came as a big shock recently when the 44-year-old decided to call time on her international career, effective at the end of the 2019 season.

"My first thoughts of retirement came after the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, which were such a big event," Murphy said.

"The end of that event, which coincided with mum being sick, saw me take six months away from the sport.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time away from the sport and came back refreshed and determined to succeed again.

"But after getting that taste of what life would be like without bowls, as well as losing a little bit of that drive, I decided it was time to try something different - as I'd been playing in the green and gold for more than half my life."

The first person the Bomaderry High School alumna told was Jackaroos coach Steve Glasson, before announcing it at the Bowls Australia's 2019 Hall of Fame and Awards Night.

"It was really important that I went out on my own terms," she said.

"Everything has to come to an end and I've been hugely fortunate to have represented my country for the past 23 years - not many people can say that.

"To finish with two international tournaments on home soil seemed like a really fitting way to end my Jackaroos career."

Those two tournaments are the 2019 Multi-Nations (November 18-24) and World Bowls Challenge (November 29-30).

"Both the Multi-Nations and World Bowls Challenge, which will see us take on the top bowlers from all around the globe, are really exciting events," she said.

A young Karen Murphy. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA

A young Karen Murphy. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA

"I'm going to make the most of the next few weeks, especially being able to play in front of all my friends and family.

"All the Jackaroos girls have already said they plan to send me out a winner, which would an amazing and emotional way to end my career."

Although Murphy, who is already the most capped Jackaroo in history (646), looks back on her career, which includes a Commonwealth Games gold medal and four world championship gold medals, is over the moon with what she's achieved on the greens, it's not what she considers her greatest achievement.

"All the achievements in my career are great but the thing I'm most proud of is the legacy I'm leaving behind," she said.

"I came into the sport as an 11-year-old when lawn bowls wasn't cool and not many young people played, but now there are countless girls playing our sport - I'd like to think I'm a trailblazer who inspired young girls to play our game.

"Women's bowls in Australia has never been in a healthier spot, with us being world number one for the past 11 years - our depth is amazing and I'm leaving the sport in great hands."

Although Murphy, who's been blown away with the messages of support since her announcement, will be finishing up in the green and gold, she will still be playing for the Sydney Lions in the BPL, NSW and Cabramatta on the national scene.

On top of that, Murphy, who will also commentate matches and continue to run clinics, will work as co-chair with para-swimmer and OAM Matt Levy as the co-chair of Commonwealth Games Australia's athlete advisory group.

"I'm really excited to be working on the committee and helping the athlete's voices be heard, especially in both netball and bowls - which are two of the main sports I'll be concentrating on," she said.

"It's a great program that has been developed to help athletes perform at their best and I feel very honoured to be put in this position."

While she is excited for what the future holds, she knows she will miss her Jackaroos family.

"There's nothing quite like pulling on that green and gold jersey and competing for your country, especially in a team environment," she said.

"That international rivalry is something I'm sure to miss, so I'm going to make the most of these new two competitions and try my hardest to go out with two gold medals."

This story Murphy opens up about her decision to retire from international bowls first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.