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Tuesday March 17, 2009

Bellinder: The lane and ball were my babysitters

PETALING JAYA: It’s no surprise that American bowler Missy Bellinder holds the record as the youngest to make the national senior team. After all, she had her first contact with the bowling world just weeks after she was born.

Bellinder is one of the four American female professional bowlers who are looking forward to kick up a storm in the Canon Malaysian International Open at the Sunway Megalanes in Sunway Pyramid this week. And she did not take long to show that she is the one to watch.

Bellinder shot to the top of the overseas qualifying pool with a six-game series of 1,390 ahead of Indonesia’s Happy Soediyono, who posted 1,359 yesterday.

“I always want to win in any tournament I take part in,” said the 27-year-old, who is making her debut in the Open.

Bellinder: "I always want to win in any tournament I take part in'.

“Although the lanes are very dry, they are playable. I need to change my release and increase the ball speed to tackle the condition and hopefully, I will improve on my scores.”

On how she started out in the sport, Bellinder said that she began bowling when she was just two-and-a-half-years-old.

“My dad, Frank Bellinder, a long-time Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) member, owned a pro shop in California and I was brought into the bowling centre to be shown off to all,” she said.

“My babysitter was the lane and an eight-pound ball. I would sit at the foul line and push the ball down the lane and it was only much later that I started using both hands.”

Bellinder joined her first youth bowling league when she was seven and her career took off just after her 14th birthday when she rolled her first perfect game. She shot another perfect game a week later in another bowling centre.

Bellinder is also the only female to qualify for the men’s Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour and she has won two regional titles thus far.

“I also hope to do well here (in the Malaysian Open) as I also want to make the team for the Canon Cup. It looks like a fun event and it will be telecast live,” said Bellinder, who has Shalin Zulkifli as her travelling mate when the Malaysian goes on the US women’s pro tour.

The Canon Cup will be held on Sunday and it pits the national team against the Rest of the World, comprising the top five foreign bowlers from the Malaysian Open.

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