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Yeo claims her biggest payout in bowling's Olympic push

SINGAPORE — If bowling does get included in the 2020 Olympic Games, national bowler Joey Yeo can claim to have played a small but significant role in it.

Singapore national bowler Joey Yeo (pictured) beat Germany's Birgit Poppler 207-204 to win the women's singles at the inaugural Bowling World Open in Tokyo. Photo: Singapore Bowling Federation

Singapore national bowler Joey Yeo (pictured) beat Germany's Birgit Poppler 207-204 to win the women's singles at the inaugural Bowling World Open in Tokyo. Photo: Singapore Bowling Federation

SINGAPORE — If bowling does get included in the 2020 Olympic Games, national bowler Joey Yeo can claim to have played a small but significant role in it.

Today (July 12), the 17-year-old clinched the women’s singles title at the inaugural Bowling World Open, where she beat Germany’s Birgit Poppler 207-204 at the Makuhari Messe Exhibition Hall just outside the Japanese capital. The event is part of the sport’s bid for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The win also saw the Singaporean pick up ¥10 million (S$110,000), her largest prize to date.

“I am still a little overwhelmed. The feeling is surreal and it is still sinking in,” said Yeo in a phone interview with TODAY. 

“This is a pioneer competition and I am grateful to be a part of it. It has given me a huge confidence booster. This competition proved to organisers that bowling is worthy of being exhibited in the Olympics and shows the world that the sport is progressing.” 

The win was Yeo’s biggest since clinching the women’s trios gold medal at the 23rd Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships in January this year with Geraldine Ng and New Hui Fen. Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua described the teenager’s performance as “awesome”.

“That word sums it all up,” said Phua from Tokyo. “For a 17-year-old to step up to (such) a huge stage and still manage to keep her cool and execute one flawless shot after another is awesome."

Finland’s Osku Palermaa won the men’s title after a 266-256 win over Japan’s Isao Yamamoto.

Organised by World Bowling together with the Japan Bowling Congress and the National Bowling Federation of Japan, the meet featured top competitors from 55 countries in the singles and mixed doubles.

They included 12-time US Professional Bowlers Association champion Jason Belmonte of Australia and American Kelly Kulick, a silver medallist (singles) at the 2013 World Games, which had a total prize purse of US$390,000 (S$526.986).

The sport’s only appearance at the Olympics was in 1992 in Barcelona, where it was a demonstration, or non-medal, sport. New International Olympic Committee (IOC) policies under the “Olympic 2020 Agenda” meant hosts could propose additions, especially those popular to them, to the existing 28 Olympic sports.

Bowling, along with baseball or softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu, are in the running to be included for the 2020 Olympics. A vote next month will decide which of these will be shortlisted for the final decision by the IOC in August next year.

“The Japanese Bowling Congress must be commended for staging events like this,” said Phua. “They attract professionals and amateurs alike and want to showcase the sport to be taken seriously for consideration for the Olympics in 2020.”

 

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