Margaret Johnston

Margaret grew up in Upperlands and always had an interest in sports, playing netball and hockey initially. After moving to Bellaghy she began liking the short mat game of bowls which was competitive and provided a good evening out. Since 1964 Margaret has had experience of this version of the game and she particularly enjoyed the social element of the sport during her early days. She feels there is less focus now and that young competitors put too much emphasis on playing a driving game. For Margaret the element of social mixing helps to cross boundaries.

Margaret’s first competition was in 1979 and a loss in a final was put down to lack of adequate experience. In these early days women were not allowed on the rink at night only in the afternoon. Margaret feels that the role of the skip is vital, as the skip needs to get on with the other 3 players – you need to encourage the rinks to get the best out of them. When Margaret got a trial in 1981 for the Irish team she felt great, as if she had really made it. Everything was new for her as she stepped out for her first international in Edinburgh but the team talk encouraged everyone to do their best. Margaret perceived that the standard of the women’s game was fantastic and she participated in internationals from 1981 up to 2007, winning over 100 caps.

According to Margaret during a game it is necessary to block out the crowd in order to concentrate. Margaret was not coached but picked up any relevant skills as she went along. In one pairs match when they were losing, Margaret was encouraged by an Australian coach to slow her game down and, on doing so, she duly won. She recalled meeting Prince Edward after Commonwealth gold had been won in Canada.

Margaret was particularly pleased about winning the World Pairs with Phyllis Nolan for three successive years. She vividly remembers the great Indoor Competition Final against David Corkhill which she only lost on the final bowl thrown. The winning of the Champion of Champions Competition by Margaret in Australia was seen as a great achievement. Margaret would advise young bowlers to always listen to advice and to watch the opposition carefully. For Margaret the mark of a champion is always to remain cool, calm and collected.

  • Name
  • Margaret Johnston
  • Sport
  • Bowls
  • Main Achievements
  • 5 times world champion
  • Three world outdoor pairs and two world indoor singles titles
  • Commonwealth Games singles gold medal
  • Pairs gold medal
  • Singles bronze medal