“New Era” for Bowling Could Include Olympic Berth

Republished from AroundTheRings with permission from Nicole Bennett.

(ATR) World Bowling president Kevin Dornberger tells Around the Rings a new era for international bowling is coming. And he says that could one day include Olympic status.

“It’s not an immediate goal,” Dornberger told ATR, “but [the Olympics] is on the minds of all sports.”

He spoke to ATR at Bowl Expo in Orlando, a trade show for the industry.

Bowling was a demonstration sport at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games for the first and only time. According to Dornberger, the sport “dropped off” the Olympic radar after the Seoul Games.

The president went on to say that World Bowling has “sent its thoughts” on Olympic inclusion to parties close to the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 initiative.

Athletes including Latvian bowling star Diana Zavjalova, world bowling champion Clara Guerro and professional United States bowler Chris Barnes agree the sport “should be represented at the Olympics.”

(L-R) Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova, Kevin Dornberger, world bowling champion Clara Guerro (ATR)
Zavjalova told ATR that the world needs to see “bowling as a sport, not just a hobby,” before the IOC can consider including it on the Olympic program. Guerro agreed with Zavjalova and stressed the importance of “separating recreational bowling from competitive bowling.”

Barnes however pointed out that bowling’s recreational side allows more people to “identify challenges within the sport.” He added, “You don’t have to be athletic, but you do have to practice.”

“Competition is rough,” Guerro said about the process to get on the Olympic program, “So many sports compete for an Olympic spot.” Zavjalova and Guerro both agree it would “be a dream” to compete at an Olympic Games.

U.S. bowling star Chris Barnes (ATR)
Dornberger told ATR that aside from Olympic ambitions, bowling has its sight set on the 2022 Commonwealth Games. In 1998, ten-pin bowling was included in the program for the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

First, Dornberger explained, the bowling industry should take “time to modernize.” He stressed that the sport needs to revamp the image of its athletes, as well as focus on attracting new “spectators, media and sponsorship.”

In April, international bowling organizations united under the new umbrella of World Bowling.

“We are at the start of an exciting journey that will further develop our worldwide sport as well as increase its recognition among the international sporting community,” Dornberger said in a statement.

Next on the calendar for international bowling is the 2014 Asian Games set for September 19 through October 4 in Incheon, South Korea.

Former United States President George W. Bush addressed one of the largest annual gatherings of international bowling figures on Wednesday at the 2014 International Bowl Expo.

Prior to Bush taking the stage, former Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA) president Michael Ducat was inducted into the BPAA Hall of Fame.

Former National Football League player, and 1988 Heisman Trophy winner, Barry Sanders also made a surprise appearance on the Bowl Expo stage.

The Expo, an annual convention and trade show for the bowling industry, kicked off on June 22 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Key international players in the bowling industry gather each year at the Expo for interactive seminars that offer tips on marketing, coaching and adapting to new technology.

Written and reported in Orlando by Nicole Bennett