ROB Paxton paid tribute to Ilminster Bowling Club for their messages of support on his way to a bronze medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games earlier this month.

Paxton, who represents Ilminster in the indoor game, made the podium in the men’s singles on his Commonwealth debut.

Returning to Somerset, he told the Chard & Ilminster News: “It was a fantastic experience.

“It would have been nice to have a bit more down time, it was so hectic; but when you’re in competition you’re focused on that.

“But it was a great experience being in the village with all the other professional athletes.”

Paxton skipped England to the men’s triples quarter-finals, only to be knocked out by Norfolk Island, but there was little time to dwell on that.

The 39-year-old said: “The triples was disappointing, given the strength of team we had – David [Bolt], Jamie [Chestney] and myself.

“But after that we had the fours and the singles for myself – a completely different event, and another chance for a medal.”

The singles saw him record two victories over world champion Shannon McIlroy, once in the group stage and then again in the quarter-finals.

He lost to eventual champion Aaron Wilson in the semis, meaning a bronze medal match against Darren Burnett of Scotland.

Paxton led 10-4, but then found himself 14-10 behind.

He said: “It was a strange game really; I came out well, but in the evenings the greens do slow down quickly, I lost the pace for two or three ends, and Darren stepped into that.

“Four shots [14-10 down] is nothing in singles, so I knew it was crucial that I won the next end.

“I picked up the three [in the 16th end] and powered on from there.”

On the podium, he described himself as “happy and disappointed” (not to have won gold), but now his success has become clear.

“It was the following day when it really sunk in; it’s one of my biggest achievements ever.

“I’ve won titles, indoor and outdoor, at World Championships, but with the Commonwealth Games you’re not just talking about bowls, you’re representing England.”

Ilminster BC had posted their support for Paxton throughout the Games, and it did not go unnoticed.

“I had great support from back home, especially from my indoor club in Ilminster every day,” he said.

“When you’re a thousand miles away for three or four weeks, things like that are really nice.”

Clearly bowls in the South West is in a good position, with many of the England team on the Gold Coast from clubs in Somerset and Devon.

Paxton said: “We’re so strong at the moment, with the likes of Jamie Chestney, and Louis Ridout over from Ilminster – it’s encouraging for the youngsters coming through.

“[Ilminster youngster] Oli Collins has an Under-18 trial coming up, he’s done well in the schools events, so he looks to have a great future.

“He’s keen, he’s staying with it, and when you’ve got members of the club who are successful, it’s great for the youngsters.

“We’re people for them to look up to, the same as when I was a youngster and the likes of Ian Bond were at Commonwealth Games.”

He added: “Ilminster’s a really good club, a friendly club, not just in bowls but on the social side as well, which makes the club really.

“It’s a great centre for the town.”