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“Class of 1999” celebrates their 15-year reunion


 The 2014 Men’s World Championships marks the event’s first visit to Abu Dhabi and the Khalifa International Bowling Center since 1999.

Several of the men’s medalists of the at that time combined World Championships (men and women) are still active, either as player, coach or team manager.

L-R Assistent national coach of Sweden Patrick Backe and Hong Kong, China head coach Bill Hoffman. Click images to enlarge.

 The “class of 1999” celebrating their 15-year reunion is spearheaded by World Champions Patrick Backe of Sweden, Ahmed Shaheen of Qatar, Gery Verbruggen of Belgium and Tore Torgersen of Norway who are joined by silver and bronze medalists Kimmo Lehtonen of Finland, Andres Gomez of Colombia, Bill Hoffman, United States and Germany’s Achim Grabowski and Tobias Gäbler, who now is on the German coaching staff.

Backe won two gold medals in 1999 in Doubles and in the Team event, in which Sweden defeated Hoffman’s Team USA, 6514 to 6425. Germany with Grabowski and Gäbler took bronze on 6362.

L-R Bronze medalists in Team 1999, Gäbler and Grabowski.

2014MWCVerbruggenShaheenTorgersen.jpgLefty Verbruggen won the gold medal in Singles (1379) by five pins over Grabowski, who took the silver medal (1374). Torgersen averaged 223.54 on his way to the gold medal in All-Events (5365).

Shaheen, now the team manager of the Qatar national team, defeated Verbruggen in the championships match of the Masters stepladder finals over two games total pins, 420-410, to capture the gold medal.

L-R 1999 World Champions Verbruggen (Singles), Shaheen (Masters) and Torgersen (All-Events).

Torgersen and Shaheen also won silver and bronze in Trios. All players from the gold medal team from Finland, Antti-Pekka Lax, Lasse Lintilä and Ari Halme, have retired from international bowling.

 Backe teamed with Martin Blixt to win the gold medal in Doubles with 2716. Lehtonen (with partner Petri Mannonen) and Gomez (with team mate Jaime Monroy) shared the silver medasl on 2699. The Colombians set a championship record in the fourth game of 599 (Monroy 299, Gomez 300) that has yet to be broken.

Representing the medalists in Doubles at the 1999 Worlds: L-R Lehtonen, Backe and Gomez.

Gomez’ perfecto was one of four 300 games in the 1999 event (there was none so far in 2014). Shaheen, Rolando Sebelen (DOM) and Steve Thornton (ENG) had the others.

Herbert Bickel

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