Milligan returns to Team USA action at Pan American Games


    United States

    Former professional star competing in first international event in eight years

    2007TTTennelleMilligan.jpg Eight years since her last international bowling competition, Tennelle Milligan of Costa Mesa, Calif., is eagerly anticipating her Team USA "re-debut" next month at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    "I can't wait for the butterflies to start churning inside me," said Milligan, who won a team gold medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in her only year on Team USA before turning professional. "It's not a scared nervousness, it's an excited nervousness. If you don't have that nervousness, you can't perform."

    The XV Pan American Games, which run July 13-29, are an Americas version of the Olympic Games which includes the Olympic Program sports and others that are not part of the Olympics. The bowling competition, consisting of singles and doubles events, is scheduled for July 23-26 at Barra Bowling Center, a 20-lane facility located in the Barra Shopping Mall.

    Milligan, 30, regained her amateur eligibility this year after waiting out the three-year requirement since she last held a professional membership. She came back to the amateur world in strong fashion - finishing third at the United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials in January and being awarded a two-year exemption onto Team USA.

    "This is the reason I came back - to be able to represent the United States," said Milligan, who also will be competing at the Women's World Championships in Mexico this September. "It's rewarding to be able to bowl at this level, not just for myself, but also for everyone in our country again."

    Major competitions bring out the best in Milligan, who has three major professional titles to her credit - the 2000 Hammer Players Championship, the 2000 U.S. Women's Open and 2005 Queens.

    "You have to attack it just like any other event - put your shoes on and get ready to bowl," said Milligan, who won two bronze medals at the 1999 World Championships. "To be a former gold medalist at the Pan Am Games is a confidence booster for me. Hopefully, it can rub off on our team - we've got a great group of talented bowlers."

    Milligan will be joined at the Pan American Games by Team USA's Diandra Asbaty of Chicago, Rhino Page of Topeka, Kan., and Cassidy Schaub of Polk, Ohio.

    An estimated 5,500 athletes from 42 countries will compete in 28 sports at the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. Conducted every four years, the first Pan American Games were held in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.