Bowling should learn from other Sports



    At the first WTBA World Championships in 1954 in Helsinki, Finland, 58 men competed for four gold, silver and bronze medals in Doubles 5 and 8-player Teams and Masters.

    This remained unchanged for 25 years until the 9th World Championships 1979 in Manila, Philippines, when the 8-Player Team event was folded and Singles, Trios and All Event was introduced.

    Another 27 years later at the 2006 Men's World Championship in Busan, Korea, 247 players targeted for just the same six gold, silver and bronze medals as the 175 players did in Manila.

    Over the years the World Championships in other sports have progressed from the original few events and medals mostly in one discipline to many events with lots of medals in different disciplines in the current World Championships.

    Bowling should learn from other sports.

    Let's have a look at some sports which are - unlike bowling - on the Olympic program.

    Rowing - The yearly World Rowing Championships of the International Federation of Rowing Associations (FISA) are a week-long event with close to 1000 rowers (men and women) held to determine the champions in each of the 23 able-bodied (14 men and 9 women) and 4 adaptive boat classes. During Olympic years, only boat classes which do not compete at the Olympics take part in the World Championships. In addition the FISA awards a Team Trophy to the most successful member federation in the championship.

    Canoe - The Men's Canoe and Kayak Flatwater Racing World Championships of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) features 18 championships (Kayak 9 and Canoe 9). In a kayak, the paddler is seated and uses a two-blade paddle, while in a canoe, the paddler is kneeling on one knee, and uses a single-blade paddle. In Flatwater Racing events, paddlers race on a straight course, each boat in a separate lane, over three different distances: 200m, 500m and 1000m. There are kayak and canoe events in single, double and four boats.

    Weightlifting - The Men’s World Weightlifting Championships of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) take eight days and easily exceeds 600 participants. Lifters perform in two types of lifts - the snatch and the clean and jerk. Medals are given for each event and for the combined winner in eight weight classes - 24 gold medals overall.

    Shooting - The World Shooting Championships of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) progressed from the original one event in the year 1897 with four championships (prone, kneeling, standing and aggregate) in one discipline (300 meter Free Rifle) to the thirty events, 108 championships in five disciplines that are included in the current championships. Even team events are included as part of the championships to allow the ISSF member federations to demonstrate the strength of their programs. At the 49th ISSF World Shooting Championships in Zagreb, Croatia from July 22 through August 5, 2006, China led the 38 countries on the medal tally with 54 medals, 32 gold, 14 silver and 8 bronze.

    38 countries have sent a full team (six players) to the 2006 Men's World Championships, while Bulgaria (4), Thailand (4), Gibraltar (2), Indonesia (2) and Slovakia (2) could only compete in all disciplines. Israel (5) competed in all disciplines but had only one trio and two doubles.

    Lots of medals for many countries means lots of recognition for the sport plus support and bonuses for the federations and the athletes from the government and/or sponsors.

    As reported earlier in our 2006 MWC review five countries won a gold medal in Korea and 33 of 247 players (approx. 13.4 per cent) from ten countries walked back home with a medal.

    Since the World Bowling Championships feature two types of bowling - on long oil and short oil - medals could be given for each type of bowling (on short oil and on long oil lane condition) and for the combined winner (as in Weightlifting) without having to change the schedule. As Singles and Doubles are currently played on one condition only this would concern Trios, Doubles and All Events.

    Koreans Choi Bok-Eum, Kang Hee-Won and Jo Nam-Yi, who received the silver medal in Trios in Busan would have won the gold medal on short oil while Malaysians Aaron Kong, Ben Heng and Zulmazran Zulkifli would have claimed the gold medal for their performance on short oil. Other medalists would be Finland (silver on long), Singapore (bronze on short) and the combined World Champions Choi Jong-In, Joung Seoung-Joo and Kim Tae-Won from Korea (bronze on long, silver on short).

    Click here for the Trios results (short and long oil).

    In the Team event, World Champion United States led the standings also on long oil and finished second on short oil. The Malaysian team topped the Americans on short oil and would have received the gold medal. Defending Team champion Sweden was second on long, with Japan in third. Both teams fell out of the medals due to their performance on short oil on which Canada would have won bronze.

    Click here for the Team results (short and long oil).

    All Events champion Remy Ong from Singapore would have added the All Events gold medal on short oil, with runner-up Rhino Page in second and Azidi Ameran, Malaysia in third. On long oil, Jason Belmonte from Australia would have been honored for his outstanding performance over 12 games on long oil, with Swede Martin Larsen second and Petri Mannonen, Finland, third.

    Click here for the All Events results (short and long oil).

    As the International Federation of Rowing Associations the World Tenpin Bowling Association could give medals to the top three member federations in the championship. Either based on a point system like the FISA does or just based on Country All Events as we did.

    The top 4 countries in the 2006 Men's World Championship in Busan, Korea averaged 215-plus over 144 games (six players 24 games each). Malaysia topped Korea by 10 pins with Finland in third, a mere six pins ahead of Team USA.

    The Finns led the standings on long oil with a 221,01 average, with Korea (218,29) second and Sweden third (217,83). Malaysia was the strongest competitor on short oil with a 217,76 average, with Team USA second (214,86) and Korea third (213,28).

    Click here for the complete Country All Events results (short, long and combined).

    With gold medals given for each event (short and long oil) and for the combined winners plus Country All Events, eight countries would have won a gold medal in Korea and 51 of 247 players (approx. 20,6 per cent) from twelve countries would have walked back home with a medal. The big winner would have been Malaysia, which would have led the medal tally with 4 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze (instead of 1 silver and 1 bronze).

    Medal Tally - seven events, 15 championships
    Doubles long oil only, Singles short oil only, Trios, Team, All Events, Country All Events long, short and combined, Masters).

    For the first time in the history of World Bowling Championship the 2006 Men's World Championship at the Asiad Bowling Center in Busan, Korea were conducted separately from the women.

    Since the championships became so big (600 players in 1999, 582 in 2003) the WTBA Congress in Malaysia 2003 had decided to split the men's and women's competition. The intention of the WTBA was to shorten the championships, lower the costs and to be able to give the championships to countries with smaller bowling centers.

    However, with the last day of arrival on Tuesday, August 29, and the departure day on Saturday, September 9, the MWC took at least 12 days. Not a big difference to the 2003 Worlds in Malaysia (14 days).

    After watching the Women's World Championships in Denmark 2005 and the 2006 Men's World Championship in Korea, I think the best solution would be a WTBA Zone Qualifier, i.e. during the zone championships, to limit the number of countries either to shorten the World Championships or to have more games in the same time and to reunite the men's and women's championships again.

    The number could vary based on the success in recent World Championships, in which country the championships will be held and how big the bowling center is.

    The main reason to bring men and women together is pretty simple: all players want it. The officials of those countries who haven't participated may not know this: The atmosphere during the competition in Aalborg and Busan, especially in the early morning squads and when the host country did not compete, was as silent as in a cemetery at Midnight.

    From a sports standpoint, a World Championship is the premiere event of a sport which is not on the Olympic program and should not be misused by 'open bowlers' to bowl with the best amateur bowlers in the world.

    It was embarrassing to watch an armada of so called 'make-up' players who become regularly defeated by local booster doubles, booster trios and booster teams. The difference between the top players and those at the bottom of the field was so huge that i.e. Rhino Page's three-game set in Singles (279, 253, 279) would have beaten the combined games (275, 290, 276) of two of the players he met on one pair of lanes.

    The alternate in the five-player team event should be on the lane with his team mates as in all the other sports. The substitute, even if he is as good a Kimmo Lehtonen from Finland, who shot a perfect game in 2003 in a make-up team, and even a player who will be replaced during competition should not be illegible for All Events, as this is the qualifier for the Masters.

    In Korea some players bowled 12 out of 24 games in the make-up teams. They had no pressure or at least not the same pressure as the players who competed for medals and many averaged much higher than in Singles and Double competition.

    Alternatively the World Championship could be split into Individual (Singles, Doubles) and Team (Trios, Team) World Championships which could be alternated every two years.

    The next WTBA Congress will be held during the 2007 Women's World Championships in Mexico, August 30 through September 9, 2006.