Southampton’s bowls World Champion of Champions winner Tom Bishop admits his famous victory is yet to fully sink in ... a month after it happened. Bishop, who celebrated his trophy win at Atherley Bowls Club this week by gathering friends and family together, won the competition in New Zealand at the beginning of December.

He still feels the whole thing was just a dream. “It was surreal, kind of like an out of body experience,” he said. “Obviously there was a huge amount of excitement but it didn’t sink in then and it still hasn’t fully sunk in now.

“It was surprising when I got home to find out just how many people had heard about it. The word had spread fast. It was great to return to that.”

The champion, who lives on Hill Lane near the bowls club where he started playing at seven-years-old, lost two of his first four games and only qualified from the round-robin section of the competition in the last match. He then came through the final rounds, beating bowlers representing Wales and Scotland in the semi-final and final respectively to claim the famous win. He defeated Scottish rival Alastair White in the final 8-4, 9-5 after battling past Robert Weale (Wales) 4-10, 6-4, 4-2, in the semis.

“I went out to New Zealand to have fun and enjoy myself, at no point was I thinking about winning it,” Bishop said. “I just went in with no expectations and to have fun. All the players socialised with each other. We spent a lot time relaxing together, so I’ve come back with new friends and also the trophy.

“We’d play all day and finish around 5pm; at that point we’d have some beers, relax and eat together. It was only in the final where it suddenly dawned on me that I might win.”

Bishop is now back at Aston University, where he is in the last year of a degree in construction engineering.