LAS VEGAS – Senior Team USA’s Lennie Boresch Jr. delivered a strike on the first shot of his final frame to claim the first gold medal for the United States at the 2019 World Bowling Senior Championships.
The United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer outlasted Canada’s Michael Snow, 188-177, in the men’s singles final, while Japan’s Yumiko Yoshida defeated top seed Susanne Olsson of Sweden, 209-185, in the women’s final.
The win marked the first individual gold medal for Boresch in three appearances at the World Senior Championships. He helped Team USA to team titles in 2015 and 2017, but his best performance in singles was a bronze medal in 2017.
“It was quite the journey today, and the matches were pretty tough, but it’s just an awesome feeling right now,” Boresch said. “It was very emotional (on the podium). There’s nothing better than representing your country, and then being able to win it and pull out the gold is something. That’s our goal – just to get as many medals as we can. I’m overwhelmed and kind of speechless. It’s a great start to hopefully a great week.”
The championship bout between Boresch and Snow was far different than their high-scoring semifinal matches.
While it appeared that three unmade splits from Snow in the first six frames would be his undoing, he rallied with three consecutive strikes, and a 4-9 split from Boresch in the ninth frame gave Snow a chance to lock up the gold medal with three more strikes in the 10th frame.
After Snow left the 2-8 combination on his first offering, Boresch tossed a strike to win.
In their semifinal matches, the two were clean and combined for 17 strikes. Snow defeated top seed Tore Torgersen of Norway (248-214), and Boresch topped Mark Spiteri of Malta (246-223).
In the final, the two combined for five open frames – four splits and a washout.
On the way to the title, Boresch used some of the quick thinking and versatility that earned him a spot in the medal round after Wednesday’s six games of qualifying.
He said the 42-foot World Bowling Tokyo oil pattern played tighter on the championship pair of lanes, so a little more surface and throwing the ball harder and straighter were his keys to success.
“I caught a couple bad breaks and a couple good breaks, and thought I was going to lose it there at the end,” Boresch said. “He had a chance to shut me out, I believe, but that was out of my control. Fortunately, I got up and got a mark in the 10th to seal the gold.”
In the nearby women’s singles final Thursday, Yoshida didn’t throw her first strike until the fifth frame, but three consecutive strikes allowed her to pull away from Olsson. Olsson also was the singles silver medalist at the 2015 World Senior Championships, and she went on to win the Masters gold medal later in the week.
Yoshida earned her spot in the final with a 185-158 semifinal win over Canada’s Sharon Tataryn, while Olsson edged Senior Team USA’s Tish Johnson, 192-186.
Tataryn, Johnson, Torgersen and Spiteri each earned bronze medals for their performances.
The effort marked the first singles medal for Johnson at the event. She is the only one of the Senior Team USA women to participate in all four World Senior Championships, which first was contested in 2013 and is held every two years.
“I’m happy to have medaled, but, of course, I would’ve like to finish a little better,” said Johnson, also a USBC Hall of Famer. “The lanes today were challenging and a little different from lane to lane and pair to pair, so you really had to keep thinking about what you were doing. Each time I step on the lanes, I hope to learn something. I also never give up, which was shown today.”
Johnson, a left-hander, made the medal round by just two pins, which included a 230 finish to the six-game qualifying block.
Her success is a result of some recent equipment changes that have her feeling much more confident.
“Something felt off, so I went back to some old pitches and an old span, and I’ve been throwing the ball much better,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t able to grind out the checks like I had been, so I needed to make some changes. It’s nice to see those paying off, and I hope the momentum can continue throughout the week.”
This week’s doubles event started immediately after the singles medal ceremony Thursday, with the first half of the men’s field taking the lanes. The rest of the men and all women’s teams will bowl their six games of qualifying Friday, before the field is cut to the top four teams in each division for the semifinals.
The 2019 World Senior Championships features nearly 260 competitors from 41 countries. In 2017, the tournament visited Munich.
Competitors are competing for medals in singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters competition.
To be eligible, bowlers must be 50 years of age or older during the year of the event.
The 41 countries represented this week in Las Vegas are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy Japan, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.
For more information on the 2019 World Senior Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.