Tenpin bowling misses Olympic Games inclusion

bowling_alleyThe recommendation about which sports will be added to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo does not include tenpin bowling… again.

World Tenpin Bowling president Kevin Dornberger was overjoyed when bowling made the cut from 28 to eight at Bowl Expo in Las Vegas last June. Three months later, the joy was replaced with disappointment when tenpin bowling, wushu and squash were left out for 2020.

The 2020 Olympic Committee wanted sports that appeal to youth and wouldn’t require building new facilities to reduce cost. The five new sports that will be contested are skateboarding, surfing, karate, sport climbing and the combined sport of baseball/softball. These five competitions, with 474 athletes, will add 18 additional chances to win a gold medal.

The International Surfing president claims there are more than 35,000,000 people worldwide that surf. Tenpin bowling is active in every country in the world, but the declining sanctioned membership did not help the bid. At one time there was over nine million sanctioned bowlers in the United States, but is now less than two million.

In announcing the five successful sports the Olympic Committee stated that “these package of events represent both traditional and emerging youth events, all of which are popular in Japan and international, and are outdoor sports.” The three sports that did not make the cut are considered indoor sports. There was talk of bowling applying for inclusion in the winter Olympics, but those sports must be contested on snow or ice. Tokyo won the honour of hosting the 2020 Olympics over Istanbul and Madrid. Some of the original 28 sports that applied for 2020 were American football, polo, racquetball and sumo.

While these are recommendations, the absolute final decision will be made in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.

Tenpin bowling has been featured in many international events including the Commonwealth Games – where Hamilton’s Bill Rowe rolled a 300 game in Malaysia in 1998 – and the recently completed Pan Am Games in Toronto. Rowe picked up a gold medal and a pair of bronze medals in the 1995 Pan Am Games in Argentina. In 1996 it was a demonstration event before the Atlanta Olympics and was won by Rowe, 235 to 215, over a Mexican bowler.

For the last 50 years the AMF World Cup has been contested in countries world-wide, with one of the most memorable being in 1997 when the finals were staged in front of the Sphinx and Great Pyramids in Egypt and Hamilton’s own Al Tone was voted Sportsman of the Year. Since the first World Cup in Dublin, Ireland, it has been staged in 30 countries with more than 90 countries taking part. In November 2015 it heads to Las Vegas.

While tenpin bowling, and the many other forms of bowling such as five pin, duck pin and candlepin are popular all over the world, and after many attempts to “get into the Olympics”, it still has not made it. As the Toronto Maple Leafs fans say, “ wait till next year.”

The first perfect 300 game of the season has been recorded by Mike Seargall in Sunday night action at Skyway Lanes with games of 165, 182 and 300 for a 647. Four pins short of 700 was Mike Ellis for the VSL with 241, 222, 231 for a 696 and he spared the 2-4-6-7-8-10 split. Ed Margueratt blasted 236 and 212, Pat Horton also hit a 236 along with a 216 and Don Fraser dealt a 210. Also at Skyway Bruce Todd registered his all- time high single with a 278.


Not far from where the Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame is now located in the renovated Lister Building were the Olympia Bowling Alleys. It was in the basement that Paul Hanover, formerly of CHML radio 900, was a pin-boy. The “Bowling’ sign is visible on many old Lister Building pictures.

A short distance away, also on James St. North, the entrance to the Tivoli Alleys was located where the CBC Hamilton Building is now; 15 years ago, the same space was the home to Sam The Record Man. According to men who bowled there, another entrance was 40 feet down beside lane one. Leagues at the Tivoli included Major “B”, Commercial, Sunset Girls, Proctor & Gamble and Wagstaffe. Across the street were the Crown Alleys.

More from Bowling

From paper boy to pin boy


Hamilton Ten-Pin Bowling contributor Jim Margueratt shares his memories of being a Hamilton paper boy, on the road to pin boy at Queenston Bowl.