[Editors' note: With this piece, SPIN.ph bares the third member of our Top 10 Sports Heroes of 2017 leading up to the announcement of our 2017 Sportsman of the Year]
PHILIPPINE bowling celebrated a renaissance in 2017, thanks to an audacious young lady named Krizziah Lyn Tabora.
Tabora, 26, pumped life back into a struggling sport when she ruled the Bowling World Cup in Hermosillo, Mexico in November, ending a 14-year drought for the Philippines in a sport where it was once regarded among the best in the world.
The bespectacled bowler became the first Filipino since CJ Suarez in 2003 to lift the World Cup trophy, joining an elite group that also included four-time winner and Guiness record holder Paeng Nepomuceno, the late Lita dela Rosa, and Bong Coo.
Tabora also became the first Filipina to win the trophy since Coo in 1979.
That rare feat was the furthest from Tabora's mind when she took up bowling as a kid, only because she used to tag along with dad in bowling alleys around town.
“Nag-start ako kasi pasali-sali lang ‘yung daddy ko sa mga liga. Sinasama lang niya kami ng brother ko. Pakalat-kalat lang kami sa likod. Eventually as a father, gusto niya na may magmana ‘yung hilig niya,” said Tabora.
At first, Tabora’s father decided to give his brother lessons only to find out that her daughter was the one who was more interested in the sport.
“Kinulit ko lang si daddy na gusto ko rin mag-bowling. Pinaglaro niya ako. Nung nakita niya na mataas ‘yung score ko para sa unang laro, nakita niya na may potential ako,” said Tabora.
The results were so impressive that as a teen, she was good enough to make the national team in 2008. It all came together in 2017 when Tabora won a bronze medal in the team event of the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, and silver in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.
Tabora recalled a conversation with her father following her silver and bronze medal victories.
“Linoko nga ako ng daddy ko noon kasi, wala lang, lokohan lang na parang, ‘Nag-bronze ka sa SEA Games, nag-silver ka sa Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Baka ngayon, anak, baka ngayon gold na,’” Tabora recalled.
The words turned out to be prophetic.
After a grueling 24-game qualification that saw her finish at eighth with 3,849 pinfalls, Tabora rose to third after tallying 5,098 after 32 games. In the knockout stage, Tabora beat Rocio Restrepo of Colombia, 249-222, before clinching the crown with a 236-191 win over Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman of Malaysia.
“Sobrang wow. Ang hirap niya i-sink in. Nagsi-sink lang siya kapag ganitong may interviews, may sasalubong, may magpapa-picture, may tumatawag na ‘legend’ or ‘champ.’ Sobrang nakakataba ng puso. Hindi ko ine-expect ‘yung nangyari,” said Tabora.
The fairy-tale ending notwithstanding, Tabora isn't done pursuing her dreams, setting her sights on more trophies beginning in the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia.
“Gusto ko pa mag-Asian Games," she said. "Naka-focus talaga ako ngayon kasi dati nagwo-work din ako sa family business. Ngayon, focused ako sa bowling.”