SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. — It’s not often you meet a world champion in anything, let alone a world champion in one of the more interesting sports out there.
When it comes to lawn bowling, no one is better than Anne Nunes.
“I'm, like, in my element," she said. "This is just peaceful, it's relaxing in a way.”
Nunes lives in Southern California and became passionate about lawn bowling through her dad, who started rolling in the 1990s.
“I'll come out and watch it,” Nunes said. “Might be a good way to spend some time with Dad.”
It not only created an activity to bond over with her father but created a foundation that led to this past September when she bowled in the world singles Champion of Champions on the Gold Coast of Australia — becoming the first ever American to take home the title.
“They're like, ‘Well, you can leave it in Australia, or you can take it with you,’” Nunes said of winning the title. “I’m like, ‘Oh, this is going home with me for a year.’”
Now, she continues her title defense at the Sun City Center Lawn Bowling Club for the 2023 National Championship tournament.
It’s an event that the club here has put on a few times, but when it includes star power, like Nunes, it makes this year’s competition significant.
“When somebody says, ‘Oh, I get to play against the world champion,’ and I'm like, ‘Oh, no, don't say that,’” Nunes said.
But for people who don’t have to compete against her, like Bob Fladung, who lives in Sun City Center and is competing in men’s singles this week, it’s a privilege to see a master of the sport he loves dearly.
“I'm hoping that she can defend so she can go back and defend the world championship,” Fladung said.
For Fladung, he not only competes, but also coaches.
“I enjoy working with the new bowlers,” he said. “I used to coach Little League and to see somebody gain confidence is such a great boost.”
And confidence is key for so many bowlers here looking to take home the title of national champion in a unique sport like this.
Despite being a world champion lawn bowler, Nunes still has to have a full-time job.
She works as an aerospace engineer for Boeing in Southern California.
This week’s tournament started on Tuesday and ends on Saturday.