Shlomo, the Tenpin Bowling World Champion YouTube-born
Date: August 23, 2023
Category: Tenpin Bowling
The ball is already rolling on the 20 lanes of the Hollywood Bowl at the Broadway Plaza in Birmingham. Tenpin Bowling is one of the seven IBSA sports that are competing until August 27th, and the best bowling athletes are present!
Yes, you read it well. Bowling athletes, and no one better than the Israeli Shlomo Lezmy to explain why bowling can be not only a sport, but a high performance one as well.
Shlomo, 67 – actually celebrated his birthday already in Birmingham on August 20th – lives in the city of Holon, near Tel-Aviv. He got totally blind in the army when he was 30 years old, and he stopped for a while to know what he wanted to do from that moment on.
“I have to confess that the first year was a little bit difficult. You can imagine. We see our whole lives, and suddenly, the reality changes dramatically. But, with the help of my family and friends, I got over it. Life has to go on, you know?”, started a very happy Shlomo, in peace with himself and with the world.
“Then I went back to the university in Tel-Aviv and graduated in mathematics and started there to play Goalball. I was in the paralympic national team for 20 years and managed to be at the Paralympic Games Barcelona 1992. We got 7th place”, he recalls. “At 50, I decided to quit the national team, but I still play today in the Bethlohem Tel-Aviv club. Just for fun. We played recently against the women’s Goalball national team, and we lost. They are pretty good!”
Shlomo loves sports and decided to pick one that was suitable for his age. “One day I was checking some videos on YouTube, and I discovered that there was bowling for blind people. I didn’t know that was possible. So I thought that would be awesome for me”.
He was the first blind bowling athlete in Israel, and the success came earlier than he could imagine. “There was no guide rail in Israel for blind and visually impaired bowling athletes, so I had to learn it the hard way. It’s not easy for a totally blind person to play without the guide rails. So when I went to my first international competition in Prague in 2013, I bought it myself and took it with me back to Israel. I got 4th place in that tournament, which was not bad for an absolute beginner!”
Four years to the world title
It was in 2017, in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, that Shlomo got the gold medal in a World Championship. It may give the impression that the path is easy, but it requires some skills. “Well, it’s checkmate, you know?” said the Israeli, laughing. “But it has some techniques that people can develop. For example, I have four different balls, and I use them depending on which effect I want the ball to get, whether it is a straight ball or a curve one”, he added.
This leads us to the point of the sport, which for the majority of people is just recreational or a hobby. Shlomo explains.
“When you go with your girlfriend to play bowling and drink some beers, you are just having fun. You do not practise any sports at all. Professional bowling players train hard, spending a lot of time practicing. For example, I have three training sessions per week, for two hours each day. For people to have an idea, when they go play with friends, they throw 20 times per game. I make 13 games per session of two hours, which makes me throw something around 250 times. This way, people can understand the difference”.
It seems that fitness is also a major condition for a bowling athlete. “It’s not like running a marathon!”, said Shlomo, laughing. “But, yes, you have to be active; do some gym work to be ready for the strength we have to deal with in competition”.
Regarding his expectations for the 2023 IBSA World Games, Shlomo gives a strike! “I have to say that if I don’t win this tournament, I will be a little disappointed. I came to win. Nevertheless, I know how sports work, so if someone else gets the final victory, it’s because he or she was better than me. Only one can win, and that is one of the beauties of sport”.
#Accessibility – Shlomo Lemzy is with his back to the photo, throwing the ball, and with his left hand on the guide rails that he mentioned. Athletes in category B1, who are totally blind, have the guide rail to help them.