Belmonte has sights set on more events in the United States

    10/03/08

    United States

    By Lucas Wiseman

    2008EBT14LucasWisemanJasonBelmonte.jpg For years, Jason Belmonte struggled with the burden of being a world-class bowler based in the distant country of Australia. When he got on the plane to travel to the 2008 Columbia 300 Vienna Open on Thursday, it took him just an hour and a half.

    L-R The pictures shows Lucas Wiseman, USBC Communications, and Australian standout Jason Belmonte. Photos Lars MĂĽller.

    Belmonte is adjusting to some big changes in his life. He recently moved to Nice, France, with his new wife, Kimberly. The result is the ability to quickly and easily bowl more tournaments in Europe, and he will now be able to compete more in the United States.

    "Kimberly and I got out a map of Europe one day, closed our eyes, pointed a finger and landed on France," said Belmonte, who has won dozens of tournaments around the world. "She has always wanted to live in Europe, and I've always wanted to be closer to the tournaments I bowl, so it is working out so far."

    2008EBT14JasonBelmonte.jpg Belmonte, a two-handed bowler who serves as a spokesperson around the world for the United States Bowling Congress, has hopes of making even more appearances on the Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour this coming season.

    Although his schedule is still uncertain, he will compete in at least four events and is considering taking part in even more. He plans to compete in the PBA World Championship in Wichita, Kan., later this month, the Dick Weber Open and USBC Masters in February and the U.S. Open in March.

    "The last couple years I have bowled the Masters and the U.S. Open," Belmonte said. "It's so expensive when you don't live in America to travel there regularly to compete. But I've chatted with a lot of the top pros like Tommy Jones and Walter Ray Williams Jr. and they want me to come out and bowl more."

    For Belmonte, it's not only about the money. Competing alongside some of bowling's greatest players on a semi-regular basis would be a dream come true.

    "If I come out, it will be to bowl against guys like Pete Weber and Walter Ray, who I have grown up idolizing," Belmonte said. "I just came from a tournament in Korea where I watched Pete annihilate a pattern that should not be annihilated. I just want to bowl against these guys before they decide to hang it up. They are just so good."

    The luxury of living just an hour and a half flight away from places like Vienna and less than 10 hours from the United States will soon come to an end for Belmonte, however. The French government issued Belmonte and his wife a one-year visa, and when that expires, it's back home to Australia for at least a year.

    "Eventually, we are going to start a family," Belmonte said. "So it was best for us to go out and do this now while we are young and before we have a 2-year-old running around screaming at us."

    Belmonte is one of nearly 300 bowlers from 28 countries competing this week at the 2008 Columbia 300 Vienna Open. For complete coverage of the tournament, including standings and updates after each squad, visit Bowlingdigital.com.