July 27, 2010
(Editor's Note: United States Junior Amateur champion and Vanderbilt All-American Brittni Hamilton is with the Junior Team USA at the World Youth Championships in Helsinki, Finland.)
Hello again from Finland!
It has been a few days since I have sent in a blog....sorry about that. The past few days have been quite busy as we have been in the bowling center just about all day long competing and watching our teammates bowl.
Sunday was the first day of competition, girls singles. Now to back track a little bit, the United States had not fared well in previous World Youth Competitions. This tournament is extremely difficult and it's very hard to medal in. The last World Championships (2008), the girls team did not medal in any event and the boys team won just two bronze.
For each event we will bowl six games. In order to earn a medal you must be in the top four after the completion of those games. Once the top four are determined, the top seed bowls the fourth and 2 bowls 3 in a 1- game match. The winners bowl for the Gold while the losers tie for the Bronze Medal.
Sunday morning Jenn Boisselle and Kristie Petravich of Team USA took the lanes in the first squad of competition. Kristie shot 1273 for six games of competition and Jenn shot 1265. These both are very good scores; however, Kristie was in fourth and Jenn in fifth after their squad was finished. This meant that Kristie would have to hope that no one else would beat her score in order for her to be in medal contention.
Sunday afternoon Christine Bator and I took the lanes to bowl our qualifying. We both got off to great starts with both of us having scores north of 220. This was a great start for myself and I was able to keep up the good bowling for the next five games. Unfortunately for Christine, she started to struggle in the upcoming games, ending with a total of 1195. After the completion of my 6 games I had a total of 1320, an average of 220 per game, putting me in a tie for third with Diana Zavjalova of Latvia.
To break that tie, World rules state that the person with the higher final game score will take the higher seed. My last game was 233 while Zavjalova shot over 240. This pushed me into the fourth seed going into the medal rounds. This was an extremely exciting moment for me finding out that no matter what I would be receiving a medal. Knowing that no USA girls have won medals, it was pretty amazing knowing that we would be bringing home a medal.
I had to bowl the top-seeded Carmen Haandrikman of the Netherlands. Our match was very close throughout, both of us struggling to find a good line on either lane. Carmen missed an easy spare in the 9th frame, allowing me to step up in the final frame to strike out to win. Unfortunately the lane I had to strike out on was my toughest lane of that game, as I had not struck once. This remained true as I was only able to get an 8 spare then a 9 count in the tenth allowing Carmen to then step up and get 2 strikes then 7 pins to move on to the Gold medal match. She stepped up and got the first strike, and then the second strike. I thought for sure it was over as she only needed to get seven pins on her last shot to win.
She let the ball go, it hit the pins, and to my surprise.....she only got six pins.....we tied! This then meant that we had to do a 9th and 10th frame rolloff to determine the winner. Since Carmen was the higher seed she got to choose which lane I had to end on, and of course she elected that I end on the lane that I was unable to strike on. I step up for my first shot, on my good lane, and I strike. This puts quite a bit of pressure on Carmen with us only bowling two frames. Her first shot is a 9 spare, which then again leaves me to be able to step up on my bad lane and get two strikes to win. I don't think I have ever been more nervous ever in my life while bowling. My hand was shaking like crazy, my knees were shaking, my heart was racing. I stepped up and threw my best shot of the semi finals and strike, now I only need one more. And I did it! I got the double and I was in the Gold Medal match. It was such an amazing feeling knowing that I would at least be walking away with a Silver Medal for Team USA. I got to the final match and could not get lined up at all while my opponent Yeon-Ju Kim of Korea was locked in. She ended up beating me for the Gold.
Yes, I was a little disappointed to lose as I hate losing, but I know that medaling in this tournament at all is a major accomplishment and I couldn't be happier. Right after the finals came the award ceremony. Standing on the podium with the Silver Medal around my neck, wearing USA on my back is an unexplainable feeling. I can't think of any words to describe how it feels to represent my country.
Monday was the boys singles and it became a disappointing day as there were no USA berths into the medal rounds. They took Monday as a learning experience and are getting themselves prepared for doubles and the team event coming for them later this week.
Today (Tuesday) was the day of girls doubles. Kristie and Jenn bowled in the morning and were in fourth after their squad was finished, but dropped down to ninth after all the girls had finished. Christine and I bowled this afternoon. We bowled about the same score as Kristie and Jenn, finishing in 10th place overall. Again this was a disappointing day for the girls with no medals won. We are all a little bit frustrated with how we finished today but we just plan on being ready for the team event that starts on Thursday.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the boys doubles. We are hoping that our boys bowl very well and bring home some medals!!
This experience so far has been amazing and I am just so thrilled to be here bowling for the USA. Standing on the lanes looking to my left and right seeing people from all over the world bowling right next to me is so cool. I'm loving every minute of being over here and just trying to soak in everything that I can!
I hope to be bringing more good news with Team USA quite soon!!!!
What team is this?! USA!!!!!!
- Brittni Hamilton