Monday, April 21, 2008

A World Champion in Dramatic Fashion

Something really wonderful happened over the weekend in the world of sports, one of those magical moments that helps us remember why sports are so much fun, how we can explode with delight at the efforts of an athlete at the top of his game, and cheer when something truly remarkable happens. Football has its Hail Mary touchdowns, baseball its game-winning homeruns, basketball its buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Now the sport of bowling has this...
It happened at the Barnsley Metrodome near London, England, where the 16 best bowlers in the world faced off for the title of World Tenpin Masters champion. American Chris Barnes, who took the title in 2006 and has been a phenom on the PBA Tour, winning $1 million in prize money faster than anyone in history, was the favorite in the final round as he faced off against an unsung South African named Guy Caminsky, who was making his first trip to the final.
Friends of the Tipsy Historian may recognize that Cinderella story as my cousin, who has long been touted (by me) as "the best Jewish bowler in the world" but had yet to break out on the biggest stages. To jog your memory, he was the tall, good looking blonde dude with the fantastic accent at my wedding last September.
With the eyes of a packed house and the lens of Sky Sports (the English equivalent of ESPN) upon them, Barnes and Caminsky tested their mettle in a two-match battle for the championship and $30000. I'm no expert at how to score a bowling match, but I can tell a close score when I see it, and, coming into the final frame, Guy was ahead by 11 pins. Barnes, showing the heart of a champion, strikes out (a good thing in bowling) to take a seemingly insurmountable lead.
The only way Guy could deny Barnes his 2nd title in 3 years would be to throw back to back strikes with his final two attempts. If his first effort was anything short of a strike, then 2nd place would be his lot. A strike and a 9-1 spare, and he could force a tie.
If this isn't a tall enough order, Guy had to pull off this miracle at what is arguably the biggest bowling event worldwide!
To be reminded about what makes sports so wonderful, and why those we call "Champion" are those who play their best in the very biggest moments, click here.

Guy is airborne as I write this, both literally and figuratively, and I couldn't be more proud. I've been watching sports for many years and have seen the great moments from Kirk Gibson's homer to Tyus Edney's desperation shot at the buzzer. I've seen the looks on their faces at that moment of achievement and have only been able to imagine how it must feel.
It's very special to see my own flesh and blood have a moment like that all to himself, Guy is a champion in every respect, and to watch the unbridled joy on his face when he became World Champion is something wonderful for all of us.
There is a picture on the Associated Press wire today that captures not just the essence of sports, but the very instant of great joy that we've all felt at one time or another. Take a look at this picture to remember what it means to be overwhelmed with happiness, because there it is.
Interesting sidenote: the photographer came up to Guy at the press conference after and said "this is the best photograph I've ever taken"
The best photograph for the best moment, perfect! Well done Guy!

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