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CLARA IS BACK - interview

Defending her title for the THIRD time
If she wins this year she will be the first world cup champion to win 3 consecutive years
Your federation has given you permission to miss the South American championships so that you can defend your title for a second time in Shanghai. How excited were you when you knew you could defend again?
Let's take you back to Las Vegas and you successfully defended your World Cup crown you won the pervious year in Poland, What did this mean to you?
 
"Winning last year's QubicaAMF World Cup was one of the most important accomplishments of my career. It took me a while to realize what I did at that moment but it just felt incredible.  I knew it was very hard to win the Cup back to back at the start of the competition but I just focused on one shot at a time the entire tournament."
Congratulations Clara as at the time of this interview you have just won the Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship for your first "Major". After the initial shock, has it sunk in just how special that win is for your bowling career?
 "The day that I won this title I felt like I was in a dream.  It took me a couple of days to realize what I accomplished, but now it feels good and real.  Winning my first title at one of our Majors and with the presence of my husband also made it very emotional and special.  I am very thankful to have the opportunity to compete in the women's tour after so many years of not having it."
 
Back to Shanghai now, How important is fitness in such a long format and what kind of physical training will you do before China?
 "It is important to be in shape and especially after a long PWBA season.  I will be practicing 5 times a week on the lanes and working out 4 times a week. I will do a combination of cardio, weights, and stretching. Nothing too heavy before competition."
 
Having played a few World Cups now, what is it about the tournament that makes it so special to you and other competitors?
"The QubicaAMF World Cup is a very prestigious tournament with a long history of amazing champions.  It is always an honor to represent my country in this event.  Also, the fact that only one woman and one man go per country allows you to hang out and spend more time getting to know the other competitors, which makes this tournament a lot of fun."

Where did bowling start for you and what made you want to improve?
"I started bowling when I was 9 years old in Armenia, Colombia. My grandfather, parents, and brother bowled and I loved to watch them compete when I was little. I fell in love with bowling from an early age, but what truly motivated me to be better was a bad performance in my first youth national tournament (under 12 division). I did not like to lose, and the experience motivated me to work very hard to improve."

Who helped you in those early days in Colombia?
"I have been very fortunate to work with many great coaches throughout my career. When I first started (9 years old), I was lucky to have Julio Soto, and then Floberto Valderrama, teach me the basics of the game, discipline, and perseverance."

With a lot of hard work you improved and made the national team. From 1999 you claimed the FIQ World Championships, (Silver Medal), Team event and also the Pan American Games (Silver Medal), team event and by 2000 your first QubicaAMF World Cup, (2nd Place) making you the 2000 World Bowling Writers World Amateur Player of the Year. At this point did you start to believe you could be successful in bowling?
"Yes, definitely. 1999 and 2000 were very important years for my career.  Those accomplishments with the adult team motivated me to work even harder on my game.  And, it was during this time that I first started to think about the possibility of moving to the USA to bowl for Wichita State University, and competing on the PWBA Tour."

On a high now you added a FIQ American Zone Championships (Gold Medal), doubles event, 2002 World Amateur Ranking, (3rd Place) and 2002 Tournament of the Americas, (Gold Medal), doubles event and numerous National championship titles. You then found your way to the USA and to Wichita University to play for the famous "Shockers", Can you explain how important this was in your career and life? 
"Bowling for Wichita State University was very important for my game and my life.  Moving to a new country with a different culture far away from home to follow your dream helps make you stronger as a person.  It was not an easy change but I am very thankful for the opportunity and to everyone that was a part of it. The experience also gave me the opportunity to work with two of the best coaches in the US, Gordon Vadakin and Mark Lewis, who made me a more complete and versatile player. At Wichita State I learned a lot about team play and how to be a better teammate, I gained a lot of experience competing every weekend, and finally, I met my amazing husband there."

You graduated in 2006, with a degree in International Business and a 2005 Member of Wichita State National Championship Team, Then your biggest win to date, the 2005 World Ranking Masters Gold Medal. How special was this moment, to be crowned a World champion at last?
"Every world title is special. It’s hard to feel like one is worth more than another, with the exception of the ‘next one,’ but as my first world singles win it was an extremely proud moment for me. Winning was very motivating and it encouraged me to work even harder on my game to get better."
 
 A lots of national wins followed but in 2009 another massive moment as you win the 2009 All Events World Champion at the Women's World Championships and World Women's Masters Champion. Was this a bigger win for you than the World Ranking Masters in terms of bowling importance.
 "Yes, it felt much different for sure.  I was not a part of the Colombian National Team in 2007 and 2008, so this was my come back competition.  Winning two gold medals made it a very nice welcoming tournament.  I have always considered the Championships the most important and difficult country event in the world, so these two medals are my most precious to date."

Not only did you win the all events, you posted the highest 3-game series ever in the history of the World Championships (World Record), Can you describe that series?
"When I beat the record I was bowling a semi-final match against an amazing Korean bowler, Son Yun-Hee. I knew I had to bowl a great set to be able to win, and during the match I remember taking a risk by changing my strategy for the medium pattern.  I can only say I am glad it worked and that I gave my best every shot. The record was a ‘bonus’ that I’m very proud of."

 It seems Clara, you are like a fine wine that improves with age, From 1999 when you burst onto the international scene you are now close to history again with a possible three in a row of World Cups.  In that time there has been changes in the sport from lanes to bowling balls, How have you been able to adapt the changing sport over the years?
 "Thanks for the complement. I love this game and I love to work hard at it.  Every time I finish a competition I look back and see what I could have done better and what went wrong. The next day I go back on the lanes and work on it so next time I can approach that situation differently.  I am lucky to have great friends and coaches around me who help me and give me great advice."

Now a staff player for Columbia 300, Of the current range of equipment, which balls are working best for you on the lanes?
"I am very fortunate to be a part of the Ebonite International Team and represent Columbia300 since 2007.   We just came out with some amazing balls this summer and I am truly finding great success on the women’s tour with them. My favorites right now are the New C300 Swerve GT, Ebonite Warrior Supreme, Hammer Rebel, and Track Cyborg."

Hours of travel, training and tournaments, do you manage to find time to relax and what things do you enjoy outside the sport?
 "When I am on the road I like see the cities and visit good restaurants if I have some time off from competition, but when I am at home I just want to spend quality time with my family."

You have a chance now to thank people to a global audience, Who helped make Clara Juliana Guerrero the lady she is today?
"So many people have influenced who I am today as an athlete and person.  I obviously could not have been here without the help and unconditional support of my parents.  They taught me discipline, values, and how to be humble throughout the process. They gave it all for me and my dreams and I will always be extremely thankful to them. To my husband, Joshua Kubiak, for supporting me and pushing me to be better and go for my dreams.   To all  the coaches that been a part of my bowling, Julio Soto, Floberto Valderrama, Fernando Guerrero, David Rivera, Mark Lewis, Gordon Vadakin, Rick Benoit, Ruben Ghiragossian, and many others that have given me great advise at different  times in my career.   To all my Sponsors, Ebonite International, Columbia 300, Turbo Grips, and Logo Infusion for allowing to use the best equipment on the market to compete at the highest level.  To my Colombian Bowling Federation, the Colombian Olympic committee, and the sport institute in my State, Indeportes Quindio, for all their support. To the USBC, BPAA, and all the sponsors of the new PWBA Tour for bringing the women’s tour back and allowing me to finally live my dream.  To the PBA for allowing women to bowl their tour, where I learned a tremendous amount of valuable lessons competing with the men.  To Strike-A- Lott Pro Shop in Austin, Texas, Wes Malott and Gary Robinson for being so giving and helpful drilling my balls and assuring my fit is right for competition.  To The ITRC and Kegel training center for welcoming me at their facilities so I can get better at the game. To the bowling centers in town that allow me to train everyday as I need to be at the highest level.  Those are Highland Lanes, Dart Lanes, Mels Lone Star Lanes, and Spare Time. I am sure I am missing some but they all know in their hearts who they are and how important they have been to me and my career."

Bowling will continue to drive you for years to come, If you were to win for a historic three in a row, is there a temptation to chase Paeng Nepomucino's record of four wins?
"Yes, of course.  Every time I get the chance to represent my country at the QubicaAMF World Cup I will be going for the win and hopefully I get the opportunity to tie his record."

Finally Clara, with so many question we could have asked you, a simple one to end with. Why should people try bowling?
"Bowling is a beautiful sport that you can practice for many years and at the same time with family and friends. You can make of it what you want, have it as a game or a career. But, most importantly, you should try bowling because of the people. My family is out here on the lanes and we are all ready to welcome more members."
 
Interview by Dom Gall.
2016/07/22

ABOUT QUBICAAMF WORLDWIDE

QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider in the world with 600 employees worldwide. We build and modernize more bowling entertainment centers than any other company in the industry, and have an installed base of more than 10,000 centers in 90 countries. We have a sales and distribution network with worldwide reach and maintains the largest R&D team for electro-mechanical products, software, electronics and entertainment systems in the industry. The company has U.S. headquarters in Richmond, Virginia and European headquarters in Bologna, Italy.

QubicaAMF has over 100 years of experience and can provide the perfect combination of bowling equipment, products and services for new or existing bowling entertainment centers, FECs, Cinemas or any other facility in the hospitality, retail or restaurant industry.

Our ongoing mission is Making Bowling Amazing. We are convinced that bowling has so much more potential to attract and entertain even more people. With our products, we will help our customers fully unleash that potential.

QubicaAMF is the organizer of the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup, the largest annual sporting event in terms of the number of participating countries, which promotes bowling on a global level. The company celebrated the historical 50th anniversary of the tournament in 2014.