Photo courtesy Youth Bowl Canada
The gold medal Jacob Imoo was presented May 7 in Laval, Quebec will forever have special meaning.
It not only represents the dedication and sacrifices he made en route to becoming a national bowling champion, but also serves as a reminder that one never truly walks alone.
While winning the Youth Bowl Canada final (edging an opponent from Southern Ontario 190 to 170), the Richmond teen thought of his longtime coach, Martin Lintag, who passed away this past Easter after a long battle with leukemia.
“Martin was a loving man who was passionate about the sport of bowling,” said Imoo, 15. “Winning this YBC nationals for him is a moment that I will never forget, and I’m sure he’d be proud of me.”
Adopting a style remarkably similar to world champion Jason Belmonte, sharing the Australian pro’s two-handed approach to deliver his shot, Imoo will continue to use Lintag as inspiration.
“As my bowling season comes to an exciting conclusion in the next month (he will be competing at the Canadian Tenpin Federation championships in three weeks in Edmonton), I will be still be bowling for Martin, using the love and support from friends and family,” he said.
Still on cloud nine after his final victory, following four days of competition at the nationals, Imoo’s actions and words reflect those of a thoughtful and focused individual. As his coach, Jamie, explained: “You had a plan from last year, after missing out on this opportunity for many years. Finally getting to nationals and winning is a sweet ending.”
Imoo, who has chronicling his season for a school-based documentary, said the win was “an achievement that needed to happen.”
“From not winning a provincial tournament for four years, to going to nationals and winning is a very memorable experience.”
Naturally, Imoo’s family and friends are proud.
“Anyone who has been around him for the past year knows how hard he’s been working,” says his dad, Clay. “Between leagues, practising and working, he’s at Lucky 9 Lanes four or five times a week. There are so many people to thank, so many who have coached him, challenged him and believed in him. Once Martin passed away, Jacob was on a mission. Not only to play well for himself, but to play well for Martin. I was thrilled to Jacob’s cheerleader and sounding board. Over the past four days, I’ve learned a lot from him about discipline, consistency and mental toughness.”
The path to gold wasn’t easy. And on the final day, he lost two of his first three matches but then found his game to peak at just the right time.