(STAR) Twenty-three years after becoming the first non-Australian winner of the South Pacific Classic, four-time Bowling World Cup champion Paeng Nepomuceno of the Philippines returned here and repeated the rare feat Sunday.

The 50-year-old USBC international ambassador for bowling held off a strong challenge from Jason Belmonte to rule the men’s division of the 2007 Columbia 300 South Pacific Classic.

Nepomuceno’s victory, his 118th career win, makes him the only two-time non-Australian titlist of the most prestigious tournament Down Under. He first captured the crown in 1984 on the 20th year of the event.

Nepomuceno finished with an average of 216 for 11 games of matchplay and a final tournament average of 219 for 29 games. He was sponsored by Philippine Airlines and hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Kelly Raveche.

Belmonte, last year’s World Tenpin Masters champion, will represent Australia in the Bowling World Cup international finals set in St. Petersburg, Australia on Nov. 3-10.

Australian veteran Ann-Maree Putney ruled the women’s division.

Jason Walsh, the 2006 champion, came in third while Bruno Maglieri, top qualifier of the event, finished fourth.

Putney proved too strong in the final two games of matchplay.

Finishing only second in the qualifying stage, Putney also had to hold off challenges from Cassie Staudinger, Rebecca Simpson and Kate Wilton to bag the top prize.

She averaged 216 for seven games of matchplay and collected a tournament average of 209 for 25 games.

A singles silver medalist in the recent Women’s World Championships, Putney won the title by 70 pins.

Paeng keeps on rolling SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Tuesday, September 18, 2007

(STAR) When four-time World Cup champion Paeng Nepomuceno bagged a gold in doubles play at the Busan Asian Games in 2002, his father and personal coach Angel said he was good for 10 more years.

Now, Paeng is 50 and from the looks of things, he’s bound to overshoot his father’s projection of playing up to 2012.

In Melbourne last Sunday, Paeng continued to show his mastery of the lanes by claiming the South Pacific Classic title which happens to be Australia ’s most prestigious bowling championship.

There doesn’t seem to be any obstacle stopping Paeng from staying dominant in the sport he loves with a passion. Certainly not age. Certainly not wear and tear. Certainly not lack of desire.

Paeng was only 19 when he won his first World Cup in Tehran in 1976. He repeated in Jakarta in 1980, did it again in LeMans in 1992 and took his fourth crown in Belfast in 1996. The 6-2 lefthander is the only bowler ever to win World Cups in three different decades.

The betting is before he finally calls it a career (maybe, in his 70s?), Paeng will lock up a fifth World Cup trophy in his fourth decade of action.

There’s really no secret to Paeng’s success story and longevity. It’s all about clean living and discipline. Paeng has a happy family life, is a devoted husband (to Pinky Puyat) and father of three, practices diligently, keeps fit and stays healthy, physically and mentally.

Winning the South Pacific Classic was another feather in Paeng’s cap. He’s now in the record books as the only two-time South Pacific Classic champion who’s not an Aussie. Paeng won his first South Pacific crown in 1984.

Australia’s Jason Belmonte gave Paeng a tough fight in the matchplay series as they swapped leads in the last five games. But Paeng prevailed in the end, averaging 216.84 in 11 matchplay games and 212.52 in 29 games throughout the tournament for the $3,000 first prize.

The victory was Paeng’s 118th in his storybook career. He owns the world record of most masters wins by a bowler, a remarkable feat considering his first title came at the age of 15 in 1972. Paeng’s contemporaries from the 1970s are long retired but he’s still active in the circuit, winning like age doesn’t matter.

Before topping the South Pacific Classic, Paeng won the 10th AMBA-Pepsi Open Masters title in Gameworx at Festival Mall, Alabang. He swept the 12-game eliminations to finish 17 pins ahead of Joonie Gatchalian. Paeng then whipped Gatchalian, 258-215, in the one-game stepladder finals for the crown.

In the sixth game, Paeng almost rolled a perfect 300, scoring 299. He went on to register 236, 258 and 259 in the seventh, 10th and 12th games to gain a twice-to-beat advantage in the finals.

Last April, Paeng was at the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) headquarters in Greendale, Wisconsin, to undergo training and receive his certification as a Level I and bronze instructor in Asia.

“It’s a big honor to be invited by the USBC to teach the program and certify coaches in the Philippines and Asia,” said Paeng whose father was named Coach of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in 1992 and mother Teresita Villareal (1951 Miss Philippines) once won the World Bowling Writers ‘Golden Quill’ award. “With more coaches, we can develop more bowlers. It will revive the sport in our region. We can teach bowling in schools, to youth associations and others. Unlike in other countries, bowling is a true sport in the Philippines. We train all year round. We are required to work out in the gym. It’s almost a full-time job for us. You have to make sacrifices if you want to be on the national team.”

Paeng maintains a healthy diet and stays in shape by cycling, swimming and working out in the gym four times a week. It’s no wonder his physique is more for a man in his 30s than someone in his 50s.

One of Paeng’s goals as a USBC ambassador is to promote bowling for inclusion in the Olympic calendar.

“Now that I’m a USBC ambassador, I can try to convince people to put bowling in the Olympics by talking to the right people,” said Paeng, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) awardee and Hall of Famer. “I believe that bowling is truly an Olympic sport. It’s a genuine sport. I don’t see why it’s not in the Olympics.”

Paeng was recently in Hong Kong to conduct his fifth USBC seminar in two months. He was previously in Milan to play exhibition games and hold a one-day bowling clinic.

“What distinguished the Hong Kong seminar from others was it was completely translated into Chinese by Sylvia Kong, a physical education major and a Hong Kong national bowler, assisted by Ben Ching who manages the Mei Foo bowling center where the three-day sessions were held,” noted Paeng.

“It was particularly difficult because there are some English terms with no Chinese equivalent. I had to pause after every other phrase for the translation and sometimes, the pauses were longer if a concept was a little bit hard to grasp. Still, the group passed with flying colors and there are two more groups who want to book for seminars. I am happy to report that bowling is alive and well in Hong Kong.”

Whether as a player, ambassador, coach or teacher, Paeng makes every Filipino proud of his achievements.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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