SANDY Camp dairy farmer Rex Brown is hard-working proof that age is no barrier to success on the representative sports scene.
This year the spry 80-year-old made his first Queensland team - earning a place in the 2013 state men's indoor bowling team - more than six decades after he first took up the sport.
Home now after a week of tough competition at the Australian National Indoor Bowling Championships he described his inclusion in the Queensland side as "been a bit lucky".
Yet those who know this gentle bush bloke would be more likely to describe it as a well-earned accolade after 60 years of bowling.
"We started indoor bowls up at Victoria Hill Hall in 1953 and I have played every year since," Rex laughed.
"I am the only foundation member left now.
"When we started we had over 40 members. Now we have about 16, but everywhere is down."
While he's comfortable yarning about the success of the competition on "the hill" just up the road from the 380ha dairy farm his family has farmed for decades, he is reluctant to dwell on his individual success.
"I have been a bit lucky in my time," he explained.
However it's more probable a natural talent for sport made it an easy transition for Rex from medium-pace bowler in the local cricket team to successful indoor bowler at "the hill".
The hill competition started after some keen Southern Downs identities donated mats and bowls to the Victoria Hill Hall committee to get things going.
"Indoor bowls was just getting popular then so some bowlers from Back Plains club came over and showed us what to do," Rex said.
It was one of the few coaching nights the local dairy farmer would ever experience.
Then that first year at the age of 21 he finished the indoor bowling season with the men's single trophy and he has had his name etched on the honour board many times since.
He likes to attribute it to luck and that fact he has rarely missed a Thursday night of competition on "the hill" in 60 years.
But pushed for detail he admits you need a steady hand, good co-ordination and the ability to concentrate.
"It is like any sport. You need co-ordination," Rex said.
"But age doesn't seem to matter much: young ones can play older ones and so on.
"It's more about ability, though I did have to change my stance a bit when my knees started to give me a bit of trouble."
This year he was one of a 65-strong Queensland team to compete at the national championships in Toowoomba, where his men s fours side finished a commendable third.
"There were a few men there in their 60s and 70s but, I guess, at 80 there wouldn't have been too many older than me," he laughed.
"It was a real experience competing at the nationals and, yes, it was a bit nerve- racking at times.
"There were competitors from Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria at the championships so it was a big crowd.
"We'd had a practice weekend at Nambour leading up to the competition, but otherwise leading up to it I was just playing at the hill, like usual."
A usual Thursday night at "the hill" means play starts at 7.30pm and winds up after a few 12-end games about 10pm.
"Being at night makes it easy for us to work around with the dairy," he explained.
"My wife, Bev, and I have been playing together since we married 47 years ago and it is about the social side as well as sport.
"We are members of the Pittsworth indoor bowling association so we travel around the region a bit competing too."
Yet there are two significant differences from playing in the timber halls of the Darling Downs and taking your game to national level.
"Up at the hill we have always played with 4 and ¾ inch bowls on a 24 foot mat," Rex explained.
"But at the big competitions we play with smaller four inch bowls and a longer 30 foot mat.
"So you do have to concentrate and adjust your game."
Yet being adaptable has always been part of the match plan for this spritely rural bloke.
He jokes that milking twice a day helps him keep in shape for the sport and he has no plans to give up bowling anytime soon.
"There are a few players in their 90s around Pittsworth so I don't see any reason to stop now," he laughed.
"I still enjoy it and as long as you can get about it's a sport anyone of any age can play."
Besides, he is keen to make the 2014 Queensland team and see a bit more of the country.
Next year's national championships are at Mt Gambier.
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