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Sport takes another shot at Olympics

By PHIL GULICK
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002

With all it has on its plate, bowling faces another urgent matter -- opening the door to the Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) met in April in Lausanne, Switzerland, where IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge briefed a panel of international officials. Rogge outlined the procedures that will determine if any sports will be added to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, China.

At the meeting was Jerry Koenig, president of the Fidiration Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ), bowling's worldwide governing body. He recently visited Pinellas County as a guest of Jerry Krauss, owner of three local centers. Koenig said then that he had hopes the IOC "would look kindly" on bowling's longtime quest to gain Olympic recognition.

"President Rogge was candid and helpful," Koenig said after the meeting. "As a fair-minded leader, we would not expect him to show favoritism.

"We are encouraged because President Rogge complimented the FIQ leadership and because we merit favorable consideration based on bowling's significance on the international sport scene," Koenig said.

However, the industry faces the uphill battle it has fought for years. Rogge said no sport will be added to the Olympic schedule unless an existing sport is removed.

"There's a prevailing mood in the new IOC leadership that the Olympic schedule is as large as it should be right now," Koenig said.

"But there is no other impediment to adding new sports that meet basic criteria, such as popularity, worldwide audience interest, marketing potential, gender equality and objectivity, as is clearly the case for bowling." The IOC program commission will meet in July to review an analysis of bowling and a list of 13 other contending sports. The review will be based on internal information provided to the commission by the IOC sports department. The commission's findings will be presented to the IOC executive board during its August meeting.

The entire IOC membership will meet Nov. 28-29 in Mexico City to consider recommendations from the executive board and to vote on whether any sport should be removed. If one is eliminated (based on a two-thirds majority vote), a newcomer from the contending list could be added to the Olympics. There is a slim possibility bowling could be included in the Winter Games, which has a less crowded schedule.

Bowling has visited the Olympics in the past, but only as an exhibition sport.

Koenig and Krauss discussed the possibility of bringing several pre-Olympic tournaments to Krauss' 60-lane Seminole center. Krauss also owns Sunshine Bowl and Sunrise Lanes.

HUGHES' 300: Brian Hughes and Brian Halstrom were a strong pair during their high school days, winning singles, doubles and team events in the YABA City Tournament four years ago. Hughes recently graduated from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He found some spare time to return to bowling, but needed his equipment. "I dragged that ball, his equipment and my luggage through two airports and teased him about when I saw him," said Hughes' mother, Pattie. Several days later, Hughes rolled a 300 at one of the two centers on base.

YOUTH TOUR: The Florida Youth Scratch Bowlers Tour Scholarship Tournament is scheduled for Saturday-June 9 at AMF Lakeland Lanes. The registration fees are $45 pre-entry and $50 for walk-ins. For information, call (863) 646-5791.

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