Paeng planet's greatest bowler
- Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran () - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For over four decades, Paeng Nepomuceno was the face of world bowling. A towering figure that brought the sport into the mainstream, he has reaped records, accolades and major titles in a major career he begun as a brilliant left-hander and about to end as bowling’s elder statesman.

When the Philippine Sports Commission required all national athletes to submit themselves to physical tests to determine the fitness levels of Southeast Asian Games-bound competitors two decades ago, particularly those in low-cardio sports like chess, fencing, equestrian, billiards, bowling, golf and weightlifting, the results revealed that the most fit among over 800 athletes tested was, ironically – Nepomuceno.

The 6-foot Paeng is among the country’s true great world champs, a towering figure in the sport he mastered like no other.

He has the looks that could have launched a career in the movies, an industry founded in the country by his family. And he has also the height to try other sports disciplines.

But bowling is his calling, a game he has embraced from his boyhood days. His obsession for the game and his passion for excellence carried him to the greatest heights. During the last 25 years he was acclaimed as the greatest international bowler of all time.

He is a six-time World Bowling champion, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for most bowling World Cup wins with four, for being the youngest ever to win the World Cup at 19 and for having the most number of bowling titles won with 122.

And his accomplishments are bound to grow more as he still actively competes to this day.

Sure he has essayed a success story that won’t be forgotten.

He’s even become recipient of the prestigious International Olympic Committee President’s Trophy though bowling is not played in the Olympics.

SFormer World Cup champ Paeng Nepomuceno, left, and during one off his victory parade in Makati’s business district.

He’s also the first international male bowling athlete to be enshrined in the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum based in St. Louis, Missouri in 1993 where his image is displayed at the Museum’s entrance.

In 1999, the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) named Nepomuceno as the “International Bowling Athlete of the Millennium.”

In a ceremony held in Dubai during the World Championships, an FIQ official cited Paeng with these words: “No international bowling athlete is more deserving of recognition than Paeng. In addition to his long list of well-known achievements as a world champion in three decades, Paeng truly has been and continues to be an extraordinary ambassador for Filipino sport.”

At home, he has received president awards from President Ferdinand Marcos, President Joseph Estrada and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

In its September 2003 issue, the Prestigious Bowlers Journal International named Paeng as the Greatest International Bowler of All Time.

He was also named Athlete of the Century by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in the end of 1999 and Athlete of the Millennium in 2000. The Philippine Sportswriters Association has named him Philippine Athlete of the year a record 5 times. He was the first athlete to be inducted in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1993. Both house of Congress in the Philippines named him “Greatest Filipino Athlete” in 1999.

On April 19, 2009 he became the first and only bowling athlete to receive all awards in all categories that the World Bowling Writers gives out. He was the recipient of the World Bowling Writers Mort Luby Jr. distinguished service award for his lifetime contribution to the sport. Paeng was also honored by the World Bowling Writers by naming him World Bowler of the Year three times (1984,1985 and 1992). He was also the first inductee to the World Bowling Writers Hall of Fame in 1993.

At present, Paeng has been designated by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) as its International Bowling Ambassador for Bowling and promotes bowling around the world and he also Certifies Coaches for USBC. He is still active in competition and only last May 5, 2009, he established a new four game Philippine National Record when he rolled games of 300,299,268 and 256 for a scintillating average of 280.75 per game. He also bowled 23 strikes in a row when he bowled a perfect 300 game followed by a near perfect 299 game.

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