2003 Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It was the first time the event had come to Central America and many players and officials took time out to explore the fascinating Mayan ruins at Copan or simply to relax on the exotic island of Roatan.

Players from 77 different countries, including newcomers Tunisia,converged on the Planeta Sipango bowling centre for the 39th edition of the AMF Bowling World Cup.Their first task was to ensure their bowling equipment was registered and within specification.

2003 World Cup Player Services and Pro Shop specialists from AMF 300, part of Columbia Industries -- the official licensee of AMF Consumer Products -- provided the new Triumph ball, technical informationand drilling for World Cup participants and local bowlers.

The attraction of the event is such that players come back year after year. This year,53 of the 136 participating players were making return visits plus an amazing six former winners also returning,including for the first time ever both the defending champions.

The city of Tegucigalpa was celebrating the 425th anniversary of its founding and the Mayor's office generously sponsored the event and offered the new Museum 'El Nino Chiminike' for our opening ceremony.

In a classic case of "deja vu all over again," bowlers from the same two countries that won the women and men's 1980 AMF Bowling World Cup crowns -- Canada and the Philippines -- claimed the titles at the 2003 edition that concluded October 4 at Planeta Sipango in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Kerrie Ryan-Ciach of Canada upset defending women's champion Shannon Pluhowsky of the USA 2 games to 0 to win the women's silver trophy, while C.J. Suarez of the Philippines downed Marcel van den Bosch of the Netherlands by an identical margin to capture the men's.

Ryan-Ciach, a 32-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario who works in her family's business, trumped Pluhowsky 210-160 and 234-225. Pluhowsky was trying to become the second person ever to win back-to-back World Cup titles.

Ryan-Ciach, who has been bowling for 24 years and won a gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Invitational Championships, barely made it to Tegucigalpa in time to compete in the World Cup. A previous commitment in Canada forced her to miss the women's official practice session, and she had to be slotted into the men's session at the last minute. The hectic schedule caught up with Ryan-Ciach midway through the qualifying phase, when she became ill with a virus and had to be treated by an emergency medical team.

"Whatever medicine they [the technicians] gave me sure worked," Ryan-Ciach said. "I was back to normal after two days. I was so focused in that final match [with Pluhowsky] that I didn't even realize where we were in the last game until the 10th frame." Ryan-Ciach dispatched Mexico's Tere Piccini Healey in the quarterfinal round, 2 games to 1 (240-223, 204-215, 220-193) and popular Costa Rican representative Marie Ramirez in the semis, also 2 games to 1 (237-236, 195-197, 215-211) to advance to the championship match./

Ryan-Ciach became the first Canadian to win the AMF World Cup since Jean Gordon won the women's title in 1980 in Jakarta, Indonesia. "This is a great honor, because every other Canadian who has won the World Cup has gone into a Hall of Fame," Ryan-Ciach said.

Like Gordon, whose co-champ was a rising star from the Philippines named Paeng Nepomuceno, Ryan-Ciach shares the 2003 honors with a young Filipino star, Christian Jan "C.J." Suarez.

Suarez, a 24-year-old IT consultant and businessman, is a lefthander like his idol Nepomuceno. He was bitterly disappointed last year in Riga, Latvia, where he failed to make the cut to the quarterfinals by two pins. He lost the eighth and final qualifying slot at that time to eventual champion Mika Luoto of Finland.

This year, Suarez snagged the No. 7 seed, nine pins over the cut line. He turned away Belgium's Chris Van Damme 2 games to 0 (196-195, 183-140) before avenging himself on Luoto, 2 games to 1 (189-264, 265-214, 182-178), in the semifinals. His opponent in the title match, van den Bosch, had upset top-seeded Bill Hoffman of the USA 2 games to 0 in the semifinals (244-193, 224-218) and hoped to become the first Dutch player in 16 years to win the title.

"I can't believe this is happening!" Suarez said after dropping van den Bosch, 205-202 and 232-209. "I am so proud to be the first bowler from our country to win this title since 1996. I am hopeful that this victory will cause our national sports commission to give bowling even more attention and more support now."

Suarez, who was coached by his father Teody, then laughed, saying that had Teody been with him in Riga, this might have been his second World Cup title in a row. His victory brings to seven the number of World Cup championships won by bowlers from the Philippines.

Bowlers from 76 nations, including first-time Tunisia, competed in the 2003 AMF Bowling World Cup. Bill Hoffman of the USA rolled the only perfect 300 game of the tournament, the 19th in World Cup history.

Suarez' victory combined with Jojo Canare's tie for third place in the women's division to earn the Philippines the Bent Petersen Trophy for best overall country performance.

Hungary's Beatrix Pesek and Morocco's Patrick Leroy were awarded the Jacky Felsenstein Sportswoman Award and Barry James Sportsman Award, respectively. The awardees were chosen by a vote of their peers.

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Since the first event in 1965, winning AMF’s Bowling World Cup title has been the most coveted goal in amateur bowling. Whether held in the shadows of the Great Pyramids in or under the bright lights of , each tournament has provided unforgettable moments from competition that has spanned five decades.

Browse the archives to discover or revisit these moments, competitors, and the great champions that have made up the rich history of AMF’s Bowling World Cup.