Many elite athletes perform specific routines before competing, gestures that become true rituals in the belief that they might bring an improvement in performance. Others rely on objects of particular significance, or emotional value, to focus on the task at hand. For Chloe Clague, who was recently selected to the Australian team competing at the 2022 IBF World Cup, it’s all about the earrings.
“I’ve always been a big fan of earrings, both on and off the lanes,” she confessed. “I really don’t know when this superstition started, but sometimes I’ll even put in a pair of earrings that I’ve picked out and then decide they aren’t the lucky pair of the day. I can’t explain it, the earrings just make everything better.”
It might have had more to do with her talent on the lanes than her choice of earrings, but 2022 has been a great year for the Queenslander. Clague has been in pretty good shape all season and winning the 2022 Australian Adult Masters in Hobart was the cherry on the cake.
“It felt like everything had paid off at that moment,” confirmed Clague. “Winning is a feeling like no other, but to win the Australian Masters is something else altogether.”
Off the back of such a successful season, Clague will represent Australia at the World Cup for the seventh time. Despite her experience and understanding of what to expect from the opponents at such elite-level events, she admits that competing at a home World Cup is likely to top every experience she might have had in the past.
“Wearing the green and gold is an honour, and nothing really compares to it. But now, I am so excited to have the opportunity to bowl in front of my family and friends.
“Prior to COVID, Youth Worlds was on the cards, and my dad was planning to come with me, as he had never seen me bowl for Australia. Those plans were very quickly ruined, so this moment will be so special for me.
“Still, I’m hoping to be able to put my head down and get the job done without being too distracted by who’s around me. I’ve been lucky enough to be coached by [National Team Coaches] Bobby [Alexander], Don [Lindsay] and Hayden [George] a couple of times with other teams, so I feel confident knowing that I’ve got those three in my corner, helping me,” she said.
Clague has come a long way from when she was bowling at the Currajong Super Bowl under the watchful eye of her Nan, aged four. By the time she was nine, young Chloe was already competing in her first Junior Intercity, fueling a passion for the sport that has grown alongside a desire to give back to the community.
“Over the years, my love for bowling has expanded to the coaching side of things as well and passing on any knowledge that I can to our juniors,” Clague said.
“Bowling is an inclusive sport that everyone can try. It has given me so many opportunities – from travelling all around the world, to meeting new people and making lifelong friends.”
Chloe Clague met more than just friends through bowling and will have even more special family support at the World Cup, after getting married to fellow bowler Matt Clague earlier this year. The two started dating after bowling together for Team Australia at the 2017 Asian Youth Championship and quickly realised they were pretty serious about each other once settled back home.
Their wedding was celebrated in July in Townsville, where Matt moved early in their relationship, in front of about a hundred people between family and friends.
“The day itself was absolutely beautiful, and we are very grateful to everyone who celebrated the big day with us,” Chloe said.
“Leading up to the day I considered myself a fairly chill, laid-back bride, but when the day came I was stressing about every detail in the room, while everyone ran around like crazy for me.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one particular accessory stood out in Chloe’s bridal outfit.
“I think I spent more time picking my wedding earrings than I did my dress!” she joked.
With plenty of bowling still to come before the World Cup, Clague is looking forward to competing in the Tenpin Premier League finals in a week’s time, as well as the second-last Mike Carney Memorial stop in Mackay the following weekend.
“I haven’t increased my training days too much just yet, as I don’t want to be burnt out leading into the World Cup,” she explained.
“I don’t love training for long periods of time, so I try to break it up by throwing a few balls down, doing some drills and coaching my sister in between. Training can be pretty boring, especially when you’re by yourself, so having her there helps me stay focused a bit more. And it makes me want to bowl better, so she doesn’t beat me!”.