STILL PLAYING: Rob Parrella has made the list of Queensland sporting greats.
STILL PLAYING: Rob Parrella has made the list of Queensland sporting greats.

Greatest 100 sporting heroes: Parrella was rolled gold

HOW did a 74-year-old lawn bowler leap above Brisbane Lions man-mountain Jonathan Brown, race past ironman great Shannon Eckstein and roar over the top of Queensland's King of the Mountain, Craig Lowndes?

Rob Parrella, who won gold, silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games as one of the world's best lawn bowlers, scored one of the biggest upset wins of his career when he finished No.81 on our list of Queensland's top 100 sports stars, ahead of many celebrated and high-profile Queensland heroes.

Also in Parrella's wake were 1991 British Open golf champion Ian Baker-Finch, Lions superboot Jason Akermanis, Broncos great Petero Civoniceva and Socceroo Frank Farina.

The judges felt Parrella had dominated his sport like no other Australian lawn bowler and that he had proved himself as one of the best in the world over many years.

As tough as Lions great Brown might have been, Parrella showed enormous heart throughout his career, too, in a sport with huge popularity and participation rates.




Parrella learnt to play bocce on the back streets of Naples but it was after he moved to Brisbane, aged 10, that he first played lawn bowls.

He became the first Australian bowler to win an individual Commonwealth Games gold medal - at Auckland in 1990 - and followed it up with bronze at the 1994 Games in Canada.

A long-term arch rival of England's David Bryant, Parrella lists his greatest thrill in the game as beating the three-time world champion to reach the finals in Auckland.

A silver medal at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games was Parrella's launchpad to international bowls acclaim, but he fell out of favour with Australian selectors and had to call on all his reserves of determination to make it back into the national team seven years later.

Brown won three premierships with the Lions and Lowndes became the king of the Mount Panorama track at Bathurst with seven victories across 22 years. But our judges believed Parrella, in his own unique way, was rolled gold and had dominated his sport in Australia like no one before or since.