Northern Territory bowler Andrew McArthur has won the prominent Sportsperson of the Year award at the NT Sports Awards.
Beginning the sport of tenpin bowling at nine-years-old, the now 46-year-old bowler from Alice Spring’s Dustbowl claimed the top honour at the premier event on the Territory’s Sporting calendar after a marvellous 2021 on the lanes.
“Disbelief! I didn’t even have a speech prepared,” said McArthur on winning the award.
“Myself and two other Territorians Bec and Ronald Voukolos have been nominated numerous times and have been finalists but never had a look at going any further.
“I just feel so lucky I was able to continue competing during COVID when so many couldn’t,” he added.
The NT Sports Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of the Territory’s athletes, coaches, sporting officials and volunteers across nine categories. The awards have celebrated many exceptional past winners including Olympians, Commonwealth Games champions, and other high-level athletes.
In 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, minimal sport was played at a national and international level and as a result, the 2022 awards recognised achievements within local Territory-based sporting competitions.
Since 1991, 31 athletes from 13 different sports have been recognised as the NT Sportsperson of the Year but none of those had come from the sport of tenpin bowling until McArthur’s recognition.
“It’s nice being recognised for being at the top of my sport in the Territory,” explained McArthur. “Also, a little strange as I consider myself semi-retired only competing locally and up until this year, once a year at nationals.”
McArthur is well known in the Northern Territory and the broader national tenpin bowling community. An electrician by trade and now working as a Configuration Supervisor, he has represented the NT as a junior and adult, bowling in many national tournaments with great success.
“I was able to experience the wonder that was sport in the 80’s and 90’s, when being physically active in a team environment made amazing memories,” explained McArthur. “It was through this time that, with the support of fantastic coaches, I learned to appreciate putting in the time to achieve your goals.”
After a brief hiatus, McArthur returned to the sport in 2000, where all the hard work began to pay off, paving a decade of domination.
McArthur claimed nine national tournament titles that also included ten podium finishes. An Australian representative on two occasions in Thailand in 2004 and Ireland in 2008, McArthur also held a place in the National Training Squad for six consecutive years and a scholarship to the NT Institute of Sport for 10 years.
Throughout this time, McArthur would also meet his future wife, who was also a bowler.
Fast forward to the 2021 Australian National Championship (ANC), McArthur suited up for his beloved Territory once again at the Rachuig Tournament and performed the best of all bowlers at the event. Averaging 234.9, McArthur won 14 of his 18 matchups including a 300 game on his way to claiming the number one spot on the Individual score standings, claiming an All-Star award, his fifth of his career.
He also won the unranked Men’s Division of the Darwin Tenpin Cup, won the Northern Territory Open Men’s Masters, and completed the trifecta by winning the Alice Springs Open Men’s Masters.
The long list of achievements was enough to claim the 2022 NT Sportsperson of the Year award ahead of the other two finalists who were both from cricket. After receiving the award and thanking the NT Government and his wife, McArthur quickly thanked the NTTBA for the nomination and gave a shoutout to the NT bowlers who had a difficult year in 2021.
“I would like to thank the NTTBA for nominating me for this award, without your effort, we wouldn’t have bowling in the NT,” said McArthur.
“I also want to shout out to the NT Bowlers – they lost their only sanctioned centre here last year, so now the only sanctioned centre in the NT is in the Alice Springs.
“To their credit, I think they outnumbered us this year at the state champs, and just seeing them down there bowling after not being able to for six months or more, just giving it a crack event if they can’t practice or get on the lanes, it was really great,” added McArthur.
President of the NTTBA, Janine Matheson was over the moon with joy from the result.
“This is a well-deserved and quite amazing achievement for both Andrew and the sport of Tenpin Bowling,” said Matheson.
“It is the first time in history that the NT Sports Awards have awarded a tenpin bowler with the top honour of the Sportsperson of the Year.
“Andrew is a great ambassador for our sport and is a member of the NT Hall of Fame. He is not only an accomplished bowler, but he is one of the sport’s true gentlemen and always encourages his fellow bowlers no matter their ability. He epitomises everything that a Sportsperson of the Year award winner is.”
Tenpin Bowling Australia wishes to congratulate McArthur on this amazing achievement.
“This is a tremendous outcome for both Andrew and the sport of Tenpin Bowling in the Northern Territory,” said TBA CEO Rohan O’Neill. “To be recognised alongside so many other huge names and sports is an amazing honour. We congratulate Andrew for being the well-deserved recipient of this award and thank the NT Government for this recognition.”
Since 2010 family and work commitments have changed the way participation in the sport has looked for McArthur, yet it hasn’t dulled his passion for competition.
“The Northern Territory has a reputation on the lanes as being a tough team to beat, and I feel incredibly fortunate to stand beside some other amazing talents we have here in the NT,” he said.
“I’m not done bowling. I joke that I am semi-retired. My wife never believes me but is also my biggest fan, cheerleader, coach and support crew.
“I have many years left in me, hanging out with the legends of the sport and keeping the bowling strong. Bring on the next decade!”.