Hospitalized Shannon O’Keefe Called an ‘Inspiration’ as Team USA Women Claim Trios Gold at World Championships

by Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications 0

LAS VEGAS – In a performance her teammates and coaches described as motivational, inspirational and heroic, Shannon O’Keefe essentially made her way from a hospital bed to the lanes at the South Point Bowling Plaza, where she helped Team USA to the trios gold medal at the 2017 World Bowling Championships.

Complications of a kidney stone sent O’Keefe to the emergency room Saturday night after team qualifying concluded, and the decision about whether or not she was going to be able to compete in the trios medal round Sunday morning came down to the minutes before their warm-up session got underway.

Adrenaline and determination carried her through wins against Indonesia and Germany, and the effort inspired her teammates, Kelly Kulick and Danielle McEwan.

As painful as it was, O’Keefe got comfortable and got her legs under her for the final, and she rolled her second-highest game of the week, a 238 effort, to help lift Team USA past Germany, 611-582. Kulick added 191, and McEwan had 182.

“It all feels like a blur because the pain is so bad, so I’ve literally just been trying to focus 10 seconds at a time to get through it,” O’Keefe said. “As of 8:30 this morning, I looked at my husband and told him I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I didn’t want to let my teammates down. When I heard him on the phone telling Rod (Ross) I was going to have to withdraw, I knew I couldn’t let them down. I had to at least try.”

Janine Gabel led the way for Germany in the final with a 203 game, while Patricia Luoto and Tina Hulsch added 195 and 184, respectively. Hulsch had a 7-10 split in the ninth frame and a chopped 2-4-5-8 in the final frame that allowed the United States to remain in control.

Team USA head coach Rod Ross was able to sum up the win in just a few powerful words.

“It was inspirational, and that’s the only way to describe it,” Ross said. “It was a real gut check for Shannon and very special how her teammates rallied around her and worked with her. It was one of those performances we’re going to remember for a long time.”

On the way to the championship match, Kulick did the heavy lifting, shooting 246. McEwan added 212, and O’Keefe, who understandably got off to a slower start, doubled twice on the way to a 205 game and 663-610 win over Indonesia.

Sharon Limansantoso shot 226 for Indonesia in the loss and was joined by Putty Armein (221) and Professional Women’s Bowling Association standout Tannya Roumimper (163).

“Shannon is a true champion, and what she did today was unbelievable,” Kulick said. “We’d never want to jeopardize her health, but talk about the will of a champion. She didn’t want to let us down, and when she decided to bowl, we promised we’d do our best to try to carry her. That’s what we did the first game, but all of a sudden, she got a little comfortable and did what Shannon always does, she fired through it. She held her balance every shot, and it was unbelievable.”

Germany topped Chinese Taipei in the other semifinal, 582-560.

Luoto led Germany with a 206 effort and was followed by Hulsch (192) and Gabel (184). Taipei’s Pan Yu-Fen had 225 in the loss and was joined by Chou Chia-Chen (187) and Su Shu-Wen (148).

The trios win for Team USA marked the seventh World Championships title for O’Keefe and was a bittersweet win that came on the heels of a disappointing ending to the team event. Team USA, the defending team champions, missed the semifinals by two pins.

On the men’s side, Hong Kong cruised to the trios gold medal with a 659-610 win against Chinese Taipei.

Eric Tseng set the pace for Hong Kong with a 237 game, including strikes on his last five shots, and he was joined by Michael Mak (222) and 2015 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup champion Wu Sui Hong (200).

Xu Zhe-Jia had 235 in the loss for Chinese Taipei and was followed by men’s all-events gold medalist Wu Hao-Ming (195) and Chen Wu-Chi (180).

Before this year’s event at the Bowling Plaza, the Hong Kong men had never medaled at the World Championships. Tseng and Lau Kwun Ho were the doubles silver medalists, falling to Team USA’s Chris Barnes and Tommy Jones in the final. Mak did earn a bronze medal at the 2016 World Singles Championships, a separate event held every four years, starting in 2012.

Hong Kong snuck past Finland in the trios semifinals, 616-613. Hong doubled in the final frame and got seven on his fill ball to secure the victory. He had 244 in the win and was followed by Tseng (215) and Mak (157).

Finland’s Petteri Salonen, the all-events silver medalist, had 225 in the loss. Niko Oksanen had 207 and Joonas Jahi added 181. Salonen and Oksanen also earned bronze this week in doubles, falling to Barnes and Jones in the semifinals.

Chinese Taipei advanced to the final with a 613-559 win over top-seeded Japan. Chen had 221, Xu had 212 and Wu had 180. Shusaku Asato led Japan in the loss with 219 and was joined by Daisuke Yoshida (177) and Shogo Wada (163).

Later Sunday, Barnes and Jones will lead their Team USA teammates into the team semifinals. Competition is scheduled to get underway at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, live on the Olympic Channel.

The 2017 World Championships will conclude Monday with the Masters competition. The final two days of the tournament are being broadcast live on the Olympic Channel to a worldwide audience.

This year’s tournament is a combined men’s and women’s event, which happens every four years.

The 2013 World Championships at nearby Sunset Station in Henderson, Nevada, also was a combined event.

The field included 213 men from 36 countries and 176 women from 30 countries.

Countries participating this year in Las Vegas include: Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.

For more information on the 2017 World Championships, visit 2017wc.worldbowling.org.

 

2017 WORLD BOWLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Point Bowling Plaza
Las Vegas

Sunday’s results

MEN’S TRIOS

CHAMPIONSHIP
(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Eric Tseng/Wu Siu Hong/Michael Mak, Hong Kong def. Chen Wu-Chi/Xu Zhe-Jia/Wu Hao-Ming, Chinese Taipei, 659-610

SEMIFINALS
(Winners advance, losers tie for bronze)

Tseng/Mak/Hong, Hong Kong def. Joonas Jahi/Niko Oksanen/Petteri Salonen, Finland, 616-613
Chen/Xu/Wu, Chinese Taipei def. Daisuke Yoshida/Shogo Wada/Shusaku Asato, Japan, 613-559

WOMEN’S TRIOS

CHAMPIONSHIP
(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Shannon O’Keefe/Kelly Kulick/Danielle McEwan, United States def. Janine Gabel/Patricia Luoto/Tina Hulsch, Germany, 611-582

SEMIFINALS
(Winners advance, losers tie for bronze)

O’Keefe/Kulick/McEwan, United States def. Putty Armein/Sharon Limansantoso/Tannya Roumimper, Indonesia, 663-610
Gabel/Hulsch/Luoto, Germany def. Su Shu-Wen/Pan Yu-Fen/Chou Chia-Chen, Chinese Taipei, 582-560