New Zealands Garden City, Christchurch, was in full bloom on Monday when it welcomed international athletes representing no fewer than 34 countries from all points of the compass to these 2016 World Bowls Championships.
An yesterday those same athletes responded to the open-armed hospitality in kind by producing exquisite bowls in high winds on the infamous fast green at the Burnside, Bowls Papanui, Canterbury Centre and Fendalton Bowling Clubs. It was magical stuff.
The first day of hostilities also welcomed 53-year-old Robert Weale from Wales, one of the most decorated players in the sport, who was competing at an unprecedented eighth championship, while at the other end of the spectrum, it was inspiring to see 14-year-old Gloria Ha from Hong Kong China on debut and leading the way in hre national womens fours team.
Another heart-warming arrival at the championships is the Turkish team in the Womens fours competition.
Five years ago these keen trundlers had never seen a lawn bowls championship, but through sheer vision of the nations number one player Ozkan Akar, the sport is now flourishing.
And last year at the Atlantic qualifiers in Cyprus, they shocked the establishment when they defeated the mighty England team in round one, then collected wins over Spain, Isle of Man and the Netherlands, plus a tie against the host nation to secure their birth here.
Another newsmaker to arrive in Christchurch this week is Australias Natasha Scott, who defeated Amelia Matali from Brunei Darussalam to lift the womens World Singles Champion of Champions crown 10 days ago at Helensvale on Australias Gold Coast.
So. Take a bow again Christchurch! This is most certainly the first time in history that the current holders of every major womens singles title in the game have assembled at the same competition.
Lets start with Scott, the sports hottest property over the past two years; then theres Carmen Anderson the reigning World Cup champion; and legendary Aussie Karen Murphy, the incumbent World Singles champion from Adelaide in 2012 (until next Sunday at 1:00pm).
And of course theres the undisputed world number one, Jo Edwards from New Zealand, who clinched the 2014 Commonwealth Games singles gold medal in Glasgow, and is always one to beat at any major event.
How the sections stand after Day 1:
Sec.1: Hong Kong China 9 points +24 shots, Australia 7 +11, England 6 +27, Scotland 6 +18, Canada 6 +7, South Africa 6 +7, Fiji 3 -13, Jersey 1 - 21, Singapore 0 -23, Cyprus 0 -37.
Sec.2: Wales 9 points +40 shots, USA 6 +25, Malaysia 6 +11, NZ 6 +7, Guernsey 4 -4, Norfolk Island 3 +8, Ireland 3 -2, Israel 3 -21, India 3 - 29, Spain 1 -35.
Sec 1: Australia 7 points + 11 shots, Jersey 6 +22, Ireland 6 +16, NZ 6+8, Wales 4 +16, Namibia 4+1, Malaysia 4- 20, Canada 3-15, USA 3-20, Samoa 0- 19
Sec 2: England 9 points + 18 shots, Japan 6+ 14, South Africa 6+14, Scotland 6+11, Brunei 6+3, Fiji 6-6, Norfolk Island 3-6, Zimbabwe 3- 12, Spain 0-13, Niue 0-23.
Sec 1: K McKerihen (CAN) 9 points +16 shots, S Schaft (NED) 6 +20, J Edwards (NZL) 6 + 1, K Murphy (AUS) 6+16, S Walker (FIJ) 6 sq, K Heiser (USA) 3-3, L Daniels (WAL) 3-10, F Davis (CYP) 6-16, S Kariuki (KEN) 3-17, J Nicolle (GUE) 0-23.
Sec 2: A Knight (PHI) 9 points +18 shots, L Doig (SCO) 9 +18, C Anderson (NFI) 6+ 10, B Chuchu (BRU) 6+9, C Piketh (RSA) 6+1, C Beattie (IRE) 3-1, SZ Ahmad (MAS) 3-5, D Robertsson (ZIM) 3-24, S Tolchard (ENG) 0-11, T Jim (CKI) 0-15
Section 1: Wales 9 points +16 shots, Ireland 9+8, NZ 6+15, Singapore, 6+3, Namibia 6-7, Australia 3+7, Fiji 3-5, South Africa 3- 19, Hong Kong China 0-8, Canada 0-10
Sec 2: England 9 points+ 36, Japan 9+23, Philippines 6+19, Scotland 6+10, USA 6-1, Israel 3+ 1, Malaysia 3-3, Spain 3-11, Nolfolk Island 0-36, Turkey 09-38
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Bowls New Zealand