I recently had the honor of representing the USA in the World Championships. It was one of the highlights of my life. Our team won the Gold Medal. It wasn’t just winning, it was the way we won. We were 120 pins out of the medal round with 2 games to go. Bob Learn injured his wrist. If he was bowling singles he would have withdrawn, but he wasn’t going to let the team down. By just letting the ball hang off his hand and throwing a straight ball he was able to keep bowling, and shooting games like a clean 187 was a tremendous and gutsy performance. Ron Mohr and Lennie Boresch were bowling very well, but we had to pick up 120 pins. I knew 210-215 wasn’t going to get the job done, so I moved way inside and shot 270-250 the last 2 games. We were in the medal round. In the bronze medal match versus Sweden, we were down 30 pins going into the 9th frame and everybody doubled, including Bob, to win the match. In the Gold Medal match we beat Australia pretty badly. It was a wonderful moment, but the best was yet to come. I can now say, when you stand on the podium and they put the Gold Medal around your neck, and then the National Anthem is played for you with the flag flying right in front of you, that it’s an experience that you never forget. There’s nothing quite like it.
At the farewell banquet, Kevin Dornberger (head of U.S. Olympic committee) explained what an excellent chance we had to get into the 2020 Olympics. All 34 countries at the World championships were cheering. For me, it was not only great news for what it would do for the sport of bowling, but also for bowlers getting the chance to hear their country’s national anthem on the world stage, and feel the way I did that special day.
You can imagine how crushed I was when I found out bowling didn’t get selected. I can understand losing out to Softball and Karate. They should be there. I’m upset about losing to skate boarding and rock climbing. But losing out to Surfing???? I would have loved to be a fly on the wall listening to that IOC meeting. Half the countries in the Olympics are land locked. Russia doesn’t have a warm weather beach except Soshi, which doesn’t have waves. I doubt there’s a lot of surfing going on in the North Sea. How in the heck did this happen? I don’t know what we’re doing wrong, but I’m not giving up. Let’s lick our wounds and figure out what has to be done to get into the 2024 Olympics. I may not be around to see it, but my son will and possibly make the team that goes for USA, win a Gold Medal, and have that experience on the podium. That would be good enough for me! In the meantime, there’s still the World Championships. I would highly recommend to any bowler who feels they’re good enough to try out for team USA. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
cento anni’…Johnny Petraglia