With two WTBA world championships being held in consecutive years in Abu Dhabi ‒ the men’s tournament in December this year and the women’s tournament in November next year ‒ now is a good time to introduce some of the sport’s current protagonists.
USA: Chris Barnes and Shannon O’Keefe
Team USA’s bowl.com website has detailed biographies of every member of the United States bowling team. Between them Chris Barnes and Shannon O’Keefe have spent a quarter of a century bowling professionally for their country. Last time they competed together at a WTBA championships, at Henderson 2013, the duo bagged an All Events winner’s medal apiece. With both bowlers seemingly at the height of their powers, these are two to watch out for at WTBA’s next mixed event in Kuwait in 2017.
Australia: Jason Belmonte
12 PBA titles including five majors, medals at various tournament events and the highest win percentage of any player in televised finals matches mark the man from Orange, New South Wales out as the quintessential big game player. Also standout at the top of the game is his two-handed ‘shovel’ bowling style, which Belmonte has used since learning the game as a toddler in his father’s alley. According to the Wall Street Journal the unique action can make bowling balls spin over 600 revolutions per minute ‒ more than any conventional action.
England: Kirsten Penny
Though far from a mainstream sport in this country, ten pin bowling is played professionally by a fair number of English competitors. Kirsten Penny, a veteran of tour events since the end of the last century, is sponsored by Complete Leisure Bowling in the UK and represents Storm Bowling Products internationally. As English ten pin bowling continues to grow, look out for alleys and apparel retailers such as Pete’s pro shop bowling balls supplier springing up to cater for the next generation of bowlers.
Singapore: Remy Ong
The flamboyant left hander is one of Asia’s greatest stars. Although he has bowled nationally since the age of 16, Ong truly announced himself with his first perfect tournament game in 1998 before picking up a hat-trick of golds at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. His return to South Korea in 2006 led to his crowning glory to date: singles gold at the WTBA championships.