Walter Ray Williams' worldly feat is the stuff of legends By Matt Fiorito

    09/12/08

    United States

    Republished courtesy of Detroit Free Press - United States (Sep. 11, 2008)

    2008MWCSinglesGoldWalterRayWilliams.jpg A certain swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games added a new adjective to the sports world's lexicon. I'm sure you've heard of the Phelpsian feat, the new benchmark for incredible achievement.

    Well, bowling can claim something similar. True, he won only two individual gold medals, but Walter Ray Williams Jr.'s achievements -- at age 48 -- at the recent World Ten Pin Championships in Thailand can be described only as, well, Williamsian. Probably a syllable too many for it to roll off the tongue, but I'm sure you get the idea.

    At the start of the tournament, when Williams was struggling with the format, some observers were worried about him, even feeling a bit sorry for him. But by the end of the event, which featured the best bowlers from 57 countries, all you could do was shake your head in amazement.

    2008MWCWalterRayWilliams.jpg By his own admission, Williams was lost at the start, finishing far down in the doubles. He struggled to a bronze in trios but didn't exactly carry his teammates. And when it was time for team competition, Williams wasn't considered good enough to be in the starting lineup.

    Walter Ray Williams Jr., reputedly the greatest bowler in the world, on the bench?

    Sad but true.

    But Team USA's depth, with PBA stars allowed to compete for the first time, was good enough to earn gold, which Williams shared.

    Then came singles, and all of a sudden, there was the Williams of old, fighting himself and his opponents all the way to a gold medal. Sighs of relief all around. That victory qualified him for the Masters competition -- the best of the best in the world -- and, of course, at the end, there was one man standing, and it was Williams.

    If all goes as expected, area bowling fans will get a chance to see Williams in competition twice in November at Taylor Lanes, which is hosting back-to-back tournaments Nov. 9-11 and 12-16. You don't want to pass up the chance to see a true world champion and one of the greatest bowlers ever. It will be a story worth passing on to future generations. And if you enter one of the pro-ams (Nov. 9, 12, 15 -- 734-946-9092) you might get lucky and be able to bowl with him.

    Contact Matt Fiorito at mfiorito@freepress.com