A GLEN Waverley resident has come home from the Golf Croquet World Championship as the third-best finisher on the Australian team.

Sixty-one-year-old John Deacon travelled to London in late July to do battle with some of the best golf croquet players in the world. Golf croquet is the quickest, most competitive version of the sport.

Nine Australians were sent to London to contest the world championships against 64 other athletes from about 20 countries.

“We were divided into eight blocks of eight and each of us then played a round robin in those eight blocks,” Deacon said.

“If you finished in the top half, in the top four, you went on.”

After just missing out on the main event, Deacon competed in a separate competition, known as the plate event.

After a tense match, he came in second and achieved an overall ranking of 34 in the world and third in the Australian team.

What makes his performance all the more remarkable is that he was not originally selected to be on the national team.

Although Australia was only allowed to send six athletes to the championships, it was permitted two wildcards and another athlete who had competed in a recent event.

Deacon was the second wildcard and his addition to the contingent led to Australia being the third highest represented country at the championships.

But competition was not originally on Deacon’s mind when he started playing about six years ago.

“My wife wanted to take up croquet and so I thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll do that too. It’ll be an activity we do together’,” he said. “It seems like an activity I could share with my wife.

“I didn’t mind doing sports where you got sweaty and dirty but she wasn’t all that keen on that. So croquet seemed a bit more genteel.”

As his wife, Jean, took to the social side of the sport and eventually became president of the Monash Croquet Club, Deacon began playing the sport competitively.

Although he spends some of his time coaching other people, he still practises regularly.

“A lot of the time it’s a fun thing. Sometimes I sort of feel I have to concentrate on a particular aspect and it can mean doing a bit of a drill, which is maybe not so interesting.

“But I probably swing a croquet mallet at least four days a week, for either a just a couple of hours or sometimes longer.”