SHANGHAI – With a plot that could rival any inspirational sports movie, Wang Hongbo made history Saturday as he became the first bowler from China to win the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup.
The triumph, most of which unfolded in his home bowling center, also made Hongbo the second bowler in 52 years of QubicaAMF World Cup history to win the event on his home soil.
Bob Worrall of the United States was the first to accomplish the feat when he won the 1981 event in New York.
Hongbo, who uses the unique spinner release most often seen in Asian countries, capped the memorable week with a 225-180 win against Irish two-hander Christopher Sloan on a special two-lane installation inside Luwan Sports Complex’s basketball facility.
The 2016 event also marks a special milestone for Sweden’s Jenny Wegner, who defeated Team USA’s Danielle McEwan, 231-204, to win the women’s title.
The last time a woman from Sweden won the World Cup also was the last time the event was held in China, as Asa Larsson hoisted the coveted trophy in Beijing in 1991.
Two keys to Wegner’s success Saturday were a ball change before the final match, which she hoped would help her conquer the challenging left lane, and focusing on some friends downlane between frames to keep her from thinking too much about the expansive venue or any poor shots along the way.
“Right now, I feel shocked, especially with how many great players were here this week,” said Wegner, who qualified as the No. 4 seed after 36 games at Hao’s Bowling, located on the ground floor below the arena. “I was a little nervous and unsure about bowling in the arena and with all of the people, but it was a lot of fun.”
Wegner failed to convert the 3-10 split early in the championship match, but strikes in frames five through eight swung the momentum in her favor, and she sealed the win with another strike to start the 10th frame.
The first half of the men’s final was a see-saw battle, as Hongbo and Sloan both were plagued by splits.
A 7-8 split in the fifth frame and 4-10 split in the sixth frame turned Hongbo’s early lead into a deficit, but Sloan couldn’t capitalize. He left splits of his own in the fifth and seventh frames, and it proved to be the opening Hongbo needed to complete his historic run.
Hongbo closed with six consecutive strikes to claim his place in the record books.
On the way to the final, Hongbo used the momentum of a five-strike start to top Slovenia’s Anze Grabrijan, 234-200, while Sloan defeated top seed Martin Larsen of Sweden, 188-165.
Sloan denied the Swedish representatives the chance to sweep the World Cup titles. Sweden is the only nation to have accomplished the feat, doing so in 1986.
Wegner’s path to the title first went through top seed Bernice Lim of Singapore, whom she defeated 224-207. The two exchanged early open frames before settling in, and Wegner was able to outlast the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Queens champion.
McEwan earned her meeting with Wegner with a 248-236 win over Malaysia’s Syaidatul Hamidi, also throwing a clutch strike in her final frame to escape with the victory.
The field at the 2016 World Cup included 81 men and 63 women, representing 84 countries, all of whom bowled 20 games over four days, before the field was cut to the top 24 for eight additional games.
The top eight in each division then qualified for round-robin match play, and 36-game pinfall totals, including 30 bonus pins for each win, determined the semifinalists.
All competition leading up to Saturday’s semifinals was held at Hao’s Bowling, a 24-lane facility.
For more information about the 2016 QubicaAMF World Cup, visit www.qubicaamf.com.
2016 QUBICAAMF BOWLING WORLD CUP
At Hao’s Bowling, Shanghai
*finals were held in special arena setting
Semifinals: Christopher Sloan, Ireland, def. Martin Larsen, Sweden, 188-165; Wang Hongbo, China, def. Anze Grabrijan, Slovenia, 234-200
Final: Hongbo def. Sloan, 225-180
Semifinals: Jenny Wegner, Sweden, def. Bernice Lim, Singapore, 224-207; Danielle McEwan, United States, def. Syaidatul Hamidi, Malaysia, 248-236
Final: Wegner def. McEwan, 231-204
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