MANILA, Jan. 30 On January 30, 1957, Rafael "Paeng" Nepomuceno, regarded as one of the greatest in the bowling history, was born in Manila.
Nepomuceno, a left-hander who stands 6'2", is the only bowler in the world to have won the World Cup four times — in 1976 in Tehran, Iran; in 1980 in Jakarta, Indonesia; in 1992 in Le Mans, France; and in 1996 in Belfast, Ireland.
The Bowling World Cup is the largest annual sporting event by number of participating countries. It is considered the most prestigious and difficult individual championship.
Not being an Olympic sport, it is the highest form of individual contest for a bowler. It is therefore remarkable that Nepomuceno has never lost a finals as top seed as he won all his four world cup titles from top seed position.
He holds three Guinness Records — for being the youngest to win the Bowling World Cup champion at 19; for winning the greatest number of Bowling World Cups; and lastly, for the most tenpin bowling titles in a career with 118.
Nepomuceno also won the World's Invitational Tournament in 1984 and the World Tenpin Masters championship in 1999.
Notably, Paeng is the only athlete in the country who received the highest award given by three Philippine presidents — the Presidential Medal of Merit by President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1984; the Philippine Legion of Honor by President Joseph E. Estrada in 1999; and the Order of Lakandula with Class of Champion for Life by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 when he was declared Best Filipino Athlete of All Time.
His other achievements include: the Greatest International Bowler of All Time in 2003 given by the Prestigious Bowlers Journal International; Athlete of the Century by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in the end of 1999, and Athlete of the Millennium in 2000.
Being an International Hall of Famer, his seven-foot image is displayed in the entrance of the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. p>Up to this day, Paeng, who still actively competes, is the only bowling athlete to have won or awarded titles in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
On May 5, 2009, he established a new four-game Philippine National Record when he rolled games of 300, 299, 268 and 256 for a scintillating average of 280.75 per game. (PNA)