Bowler takes on the world's best in Kuwait

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

Lynne Gauthier knew that if everything went according to plan this year, the 37-year-old tenpin bowler's bank account was going to get bowled over.

But when you have an opportunity to compete at the highest level at your sport, you do what you have to do.

Last month, Gauthier finished eighth at the American zone Final Ranking Tournament in Panama City, Panama, to qualify for World Ranking Masters tournament, May 9-15 in Kuwait. While the Kuwaiti bowling federation is covering the hotel and food expenses for all 24 male and 24 female bowlers, it is left to Gauthier and the local tenpin bowling fraternity to come up with the rest.

"We knew that going in," said Gauthier, who estimates it will cost her $3,000 to go to Kuwait. "It's not as if the funding was there and they pulled it away. It was known to be an individual event right from the start.

"I made the decision then that it was something that I wanted to do and hopefully I'd find a way to make it happen."

To help cover her costs, a glow ball fundraiser will be held April 27 at Chateau Lanes at $15 a head with the proceeds supporting Gauthier.

As well, the Manitoba Tenpin Federation has nominated Gauthier for a $500 Sport Manitoba Women to Watch Grant and has applied for an Athlete Assistance grant from Sport Manitoba.

"I'm very fortunate that although the tenpin bowling community is not large, they're a great group of people, very supportive," said Gauthier, a business analyst at Manitoba Hydro.

TOP 48 BOWLERS

The World Ranking Masters tournament brings together the top 48 bowlers in the world. While the former national team member competed at the 2003 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, she's never been in such elite company before.

"It's a much smaller, more elite group (than the World Championships)," said Gauthier, one of only two Canadians and the lone Canadian woman competing in Kuwait.

The fact that Gauthier is going to Kuwait is achievement enough. One of three Winnipeg bowlers at the Final Ranking Tournament in Panana, Gauthier was 10th following the first day and 11th after the second. But she rallied on the last day to finish eighth and grab the final qualifying spot.

"I was bowling the ball better on the last day," said Gauthier, during a practice at Chateau Lanes. "I just made better adjustments because of what I'd learned on the previous two days."

Next weekend, Gauthier and her husband Paul will represent Manitoba at the Canadian National Mixed Championships in Montreal.

In her 32 years in bowling, Gauthier has learned that when you get to a certain level, most of the players have the same physical skills. What makes the difference is what is going on between your ears.

"But it's the mental strength to be able to handle making the clutch shots when you have to and not letting your nerves get to you or taking advantage of the nerves (that makes the biggest difference)," said Gauthier. "Some people are able to figure out the mental thing young. I'm still learning."


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