Medals haul for tenpin wizzard

LIAM Baker, 15, of Hopton, over the Bank Holiday weekend went from tenpin bowling obscurity to one of the most decorated medal winners in recent history.

LIAM Baker, 15, of Hopton, over the Bank Holiday weekend went from tenpin bowling obscurity to one of the most decorated medal winners in recent history.

This time last year he moved from his native Great Yarmouth Youth Bowling Club to Norwich Youth Bowling Club (YBC). The national introduction of a new tournament circuit in the English junior tenpin bowling world meant that Liam was not guaranteed to gain entry onto the tour where it is possible gain an opportunity to bowl for Team England.

Norwich YBC put him through the appeal process and he subsequently qualified in fifth place for the Triple Crown Trials, an amazing achievement because he entered the tour at the beginning of the year five pins below the average required for guaranteed entry.

Liam and three others from Norwich YBC travelled to Romford, Essex in June to take part in the gruelling qualifying tournament.

Liam qualified in first place with a 199 average over the 16 games, securing his place in Team England for the Junior Triple Crown, which took place in Nantgarw, Wales over the August Bank Holiday weekend as the best U16 male bowler in the country.

More was to come at the Triple Crown event itself. In difficult conditions Liam and the rest of Team England took on Ireland, Scotland and Wales in U16 and U19 male and female groups.

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Over the course of three days each bowler competed in singles, doubles, trios and team events and for the top six in each division there was the bonus of a five-match round robin masters event.

In the singles Liam was the only U16 male to break the 1,100 barrier (1,127) and subsequently earned a gold medal. This trend continued as in the trios where Liam won another gold medal as he and two others from Team England romped home to a 100-plus pin victory over their rivals.

In the doubles event his partner struggled to deal with the conditions and there was not to be a golden whitewash. He did keep his individual game up to high standards, and kept himself in second place in the masters places going into the final event.

Liam and four others from Team England took part in one of the greatest team events in the history of junior bowling, with some 45 pins separating England and Ireland. Liam and the English boys secured another gold, Liam's third.

In the masters event by defeating three of the other five bowlers to earn 60 bonus pins he catapulted himself into third place, earning himself a bronze medal. This took his final haul to three golds and one bronze.