Barnes returns to world stage at Men's World Championships

    08/11/08

    United States

    Reigning PBA Player of the Year set to compete for Team USA after 10-year absence

    2007PBAChrisBarnes.jpg When he said goodbye to his tenure on Team USA in 1998 for life as a professional bowler, Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, wasn't sure if he would be able to represent his country on the world stage ever again.

    "I didn't think professionals would be allowed to compete without the Olympics attached to it," said Barnes, a member of Team USA from 1994 to 1998. "Hopefully, we can be a part of a movement that helps make that happen."

    Barnes, the reigning Denny's Professional Bowlers Association Tour Player of the Year, is back on Team USA and will once again represent the United States at the upcoming World Tenpin Bowling Association Men's World Championships, scheduled for Aug. 22-30 in Bangkok, Thailand.

    2007PBAWalterRayWilliams_small.jpg 2006PBAPatrickAllen_small.jpg This event marks the much anticipated first appearance of professionals at the World Championships. Joining Barnes in Thailand on the six-player Team USA squad are fellow Denny's PBA Tour stars Walter Ray Williams Jr. (left) of Ocala, Fla., Patrick Allen (right) of Wesley Chapel, Fla., Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., and Rhino Page of Topeka, Kan., along with amateur Bill Hoffman of Columbus, Ohio.

    Professionals are now eligible to compete with Team USA in international competition, thanks to a change in WTBA legislation last August.

    Barnes, who earned a bronze medal in the Masters event at his only previous World Championships in 1995, begins his second stint on Team USA coming off arguably his best season in his 10-year professional career, earning his first Player of the Year Award on the strength of two titles and a tour-leading nine championship round appearances. The 10-time PBA titlist is one of three bowlers to win both PBA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in their career.

    In recent years, Barnes has continued to excel in the team environment - liked he also did at Wichita State University and in World Team Challenges - by representing the United States in recent years at the Weber Cup, an event similar to golf's Ryder Cup pitting the U.S. against a European team in a series of different match-ups.

    "It's a lot more fun when there are more people along for the ride," said Barnes, who won doubles and team gold medals at the 1995 Pan American Games. "Having these guys behind you helping you out and cheering you on is great. There is obviously the camaraderie that comes from being in competition with each other on tour, but we still have things to learn from each other."

    With a combined 77 PBA titles between them, Barnes and his teammates know they can't go into the World Championships overconfident, despite carrying the so-called "Dream Team" label.

    "None of us thinks this is going to be easy. This isn't going to be like the NBA," said Barnes, referring to USA Basketball's first "Dream Team" that routed its way to the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. "We do have a very good team - one we think has a pretty legitimate chance for the team gold medal. However, everyone else gets to have their professionals and their best players. It's going to be a lot tougher than some out there might think."

    2006MWCTeamUSA.jpg At the 2006 World Championships, Page and Hoffman helped the United States win the team gold medal for the first time since 1971, highlighted by Hoffman's 300 in the second-to-last game. Pictured left is the 2006 MWC team champion with head coach Jeri Edwards.

    Page also won singles and all-events silver and masters bronze in 2006.

    The Men's World Championships, which will be held at SF Strike Bowl Ngamwonwan, will feature more than 300 athletes from 56 countries competing in six disciplines - doubles, trios, team, singles, all-events and Masters.