World Junior Team Returns from Paris Experience

By Chris Rushton
March 27, 2019

The Australia junior team has returned home from the inaugural World Junior Championships held in France. With three out of four athletes qualifying for the Masters at the event, head coach Shane Bernhardt said whilst the team didn’t bring home medals there was a number of positives and learnings to come out of the world’s pinnacle event for junior bowlers.

“We were in the top half of the field in most of the events with some countries with strong bowling programs finishing below us.  All in all, I was pleased with our results.”

“There are a number of learnings that we will take from this experience.  From a bowling perspective, the importance of ‘repeatability’ is the biggest takeaway,” the junior national training squad head coach said.

“Watching Korea and to a lesser extent the USA, the athletes have the ability and skill to continuously repeat their shot.  This is something that our Junior NTS needs to work towards and I will be calling on the experiences of the four athletes that competed in the WJC to assist in leading this mindset.”

With the announcement of the oiling pattern taking place at the manager meeting, the inaugural championships got underway with the singles event and Sophie Martin was the best of the Australians finishing 10th in the girls division with Amy Shoesmith in 16th. Team rookie Cameron Stein finished in 15th with Nixon Chan in 30th.

On day 2, in the doubles both the boys and girls pairings finished 12th with the Australians finishing 13th in the mixed team event.

After finishing 20th in the All Events Cameron Stein qualified for the Masters alongside Sophie Martin who finished in 19th and Amy Shoesmith finishing in 24th.

In step one of the Masters, Stein went down to Lithuanian bowler Laurynas Narusis 240-219 and 256-176 to see his tournament finish.  For the Australian girls it was a similar story with Shoesmith unable to progress and Martin also bowing out of the tournament after Grace Gella from the Philippines won both matches.

With the Australians out of the competition the finals moved to the centre of the capital city of France to stage five consecutive gold medal matches on a special two-lane installation inside the Judo Institute on Saturday.

Having won already gold medals in Boys’ Singles and Boys’ and Girls’ All-Events, Korea won four out of five medals in the arena finals to dominate the medal tally winning 7 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medal.

Korea’s Ji Geun, a 17-year-old lefthander, won all five gold medals in the boys’ division to set a record in the first edition of the World Junior Bowling Championships that can’t be broken.

In front of a large crowd and broadcasted live on the Olympic Channel (relive the action here), the final day of competition started with a surprise as Junior Team USA members Kamerin Peters and Mabel Cummins upset the top-seeded Koreans, Hong Soree and Jeong Youngseon, 478-452, to secure the first gold medal for USA.

Korea had to settle for silver.  Germany and England got bronze.  USA joined Singapore as the only countries besides Korea to win a gold medal after Singapore’s Arianne Tay started the Championships with victory in Girls’ Singles.

Ji Geun and Park Donghyuk both fired 267 games to defeat Solomon Salama and Anthony Neuer from the United States in the Boys’ Doubles final, 534-502.  It was the fourth gold medal for Korea and the third for the boys. USA received silver and Finland and Germany got bronze.

Action then shifted to the Girls’ and Boys’ Masters.  The gold medal match in the girls’ division was an all-Korean affair with Hong Soree and Jeong Youngseon squaring off in best-of-three game format.  Hong lost the first game, 223-264, but rebounded with back-to-back wins (215-196 and 262-225) to wrap up the title, two-games-to-one.

That was Hong’s second gold medal and the fifth for the team.  Jeong received her second silver medal, while Norel Nuevo, Philippines, and Mabel Cummins, USA, shared bronze.

The two all-events leaders, Ji Geun and runner-up Pyry Puharinen of Finland, battled it out for Boys’ Masters title.  Ji swept the two-handed right-hander, 2-0, behind games of 244-231 and 267-236.

It was gold medal no. 4 for Ji and the fourth medal for Puharinen in as many events.  Laurynas Narusis of Lithuania and Manuel Ordaz of Mexico got bronze.

In his four matches on his way to gold medal no. 4, Ji toppled 2,307 pins over nine games, an average of 256.33.  His only loss came against Solomon Salama (224-236) in the second game of the Round of 16.

The inaugural World Junior Bowling Championships concluded with the Mixed Team finale in best-of-three games in Baker system.  Korea (2-0 vs. Finland) and Mexico (2-0 vs. Singapore) had swept their opponents in the semi-finals to advance to the gold medal match.

Korea’s Park Donghyuk, Hong Soree, Jeong Youngseon and Ji Geun flew past Mexico’s Manuel Ordaz, Lliana Salinas, Keyla Covarrubias and Maximiliano Lopez in the opening game, 220-167, and sealed the victory with a 222-197 win in game two.

It was the seventh gold medal for Korea and the first silver medal for Mexico. Singapore’s Eugene Yeo, Quek Lu Yi, Arianne Tay and Xavier Teo and Finland’s Mila Nevalainen, Peppi Konsteri, Pyry Puharinen and Jesse Ahokas received bronze medals.

With the team returning home on Wednesday after watching the finals, Bernhardt had time to reflect on the experience of competing at the inaugural event and the teams visit to the French capital.  “Being part of the team representing Australia at the first ever World Junior Championships was a highlight for all of us, as was the quality of the event itself.   We had some very good days on the lanes which will naturally be very memorable,” Bernhardt said. 

Visiting some of the sites in Paris and Senis (where the team was staying) and the cuisine was also a highlight. However, above all was being part of a group of six people that were all on the same page. I have travelled with a number of teams in various sports and the camaraderie and support for each other in this group was nothing short of magnificent and was truly a highlight. I was very proud to be part of this group.”

Bernhardt and the staff involved in the Junior National Training squad now turn their attention to preparations for the Asian Schools Championships to be held in Hong Kong in July, a tournament where Australia returned with two silver and two bronze medals in 2018.

“We have been ‘around the mark’ over our last two Asian Schools campaigns and we will be keen to build on our experiences over these two years, as well as our learnings from Paris to look at taking that extra step in a few months’ time.”

2019 World Junior Bowling Championships – Girls’ Masters Finals
Saturday, March 23 (best-of-three games)

Championship Round:
1. Hong Soree, Korea
2. Jeong Youngseon, Korea
3. Norel Nuevo, Philippines, and
(tie) Mabel Cummins, USA

Playoff Results
Semifinal Match 1:
No. 1 Hong def. No. 18 Nuevo, 2-1 (223-235, 244-210 and 222-201)
Semifinal Match 2:
No. 9 Jeong Youngseon def. No. 17 Cummins, 2-1 (196-277, 255-246 and 225-213)
Gold Medal Match:
Hong def. Jeong, 2-1 (223-264, 215-196 and 262-225).

2019 World Junior Bowling Championships – Boys’ Doubles Finals
Saturday, March 23 (one game matches)

Championship Round:
1. Korea (Park Donghyuk/Ji Geun)
2. USA (Solomon Salama/Anthony Neuer)
3. Finland (Pyry Puharinen/Jesse Ahokas) and
(tie) Germany (Paul-Sullivan Purps/Patrick Weichert)

Playoff Results
Semifinal Match 1:
No. 4 Korea (Park Donghyuk 220/Ji Geun 278) def.
No. 1 Finland (Pyry Puharinen 223/Jesse Ahokas 228), 498-451
Semifinal Match 2:
No. 3 USA (Solomon Salama 264/Anthony Neuer 185) def.
No. 2 Germany (Paul-Sullivan Purps 190/Patrick Weichert 208), 449-398
Gold Medal Match:
Korea (Park Donghyuk 267/Ji Geun 267) def.
USA (Solomon Salama 255/Anthony Neuer 247), 534-502.

2019 World Junior Bowling Championships – Girls’ Doubles Finals
Saturday, March 23 (one game matches)

Championship Round:
1. USA (Kamerin Peters/Mabel Cummins)
2. Korea (Hong Soree/Jeong Youngseon)
3. Germany (Franziska Czech/Natalie Groll) and
(tie) England (Isabel Allen/Rhian Dobinson)

Playoff Results
Semifinal Match 1:
No. 1 Korea (Hong Soree 265/Jeong Youngseon 264) def.
No. 4 England (Isabel Allen 167/Rhian Dobinson 192), 529-359
Semifinal Match 2:
No. 3 USA (Kamerin Peters 203/Mabel Cummins 240) def.
No. 2 Germany (Franziska Czech 179/Natalie Groll 153), 443-332
Gold Medal Match:
USA USA (Kamerin Peters 277/Mabel Cummins 201) def.
Korea (Hong Soree 255/Jeong Youngseon 197), 478-452.

2019 World Junior Bowling Championships – Girls’ and Boys’ All-Events (final)
Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin in Saint-Maximin, France (March 18-21, 2019)
(18 games – six each in Singles, Doubles and Team)

Girls’ All-Events:
1. Hong Soree, Korea, 4172 (231.78)
2. Mila Nevalainen, Finland, 4013 (222.94)
2. Peppi Konsteri, Finland 3987 (221.50)

Boys’ All-Events:

1. Ji Geun, Korea, 4387 (243.72)
2. Pyry Puharinen, Finland, 4331 (240.61)
3. Park Donghyuk, Korea, 4289 (238.28)

2019 World Junior Bowling Championships – Boys’ Singles Finals
Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin in Saint-Maximin, France (March 18 & 19, 2019) (one game matches)

Championship Round:
1. Ji Geun, Korea
2. Jesse Ahokas, Finland
3. Pyry Puharinen, Finland, and
(tie) Maximiliano Lopez, Mexico

Playoff Results
Semifinal Match 1:
No. 4 Ahokas def. No. 1 Puharinen, 257-214
Semifinal Match 2:
No. 2 Ji def. No. 3 Lopez, 300-221
Gold Medal Match:
Ji def. Ahokas, 235-224.

2019 World Junior Bowling Championships – Boys’ Singles Finals
Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin in Saint-Maximin, France (March 18 & 19, 2019) (one game matches)

Championship Round:
1. Arianne Tay, Singapore
2. Peppi Konsteri
3. Mila Nevalainen, Finland, and
(tie) Grace Gella, Philippines

Playoff Results
Semifinal Match 1: No. 1 Tay def. No. 4 Gella, 214-188
Semifinal Match 2: No. 3 Konsteri def. No. 2 Nevalainen, 243-235
Gold Medal Match: Tay def. Konsteri, 230-190.