2017 World Bowling Championships
Japanese, Dutch wins Singles gold
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27th November, Las Vegas: Second-seed, Futaba Imai of Japan and topseed, Xander van Merijk of Netherlands won the Women's and Men's Singles gold medal at the 2017 World Bowling Championships with victories in the finals.

Both Imai and challenger, Mai Ginge Jenses of Denmark, had an opened frame each after the first three frames. The Japanese was quick to recover with a double in the fourth and fifth frames. Jensen responded with a double too in the fifth and sixth frames to level things up.

Imai spared a crucial split in the sixth frame but the Dane failed to spare her seventh frame. With another split in the eighth frame from Jensen, the match was more or less swaying in favour of the Japanese.

Imai went on to win the match, 191-163 and earned Japan's first gold medal of the world championships since 1991 in Singapore. The champion had edged third-seed, Chan Shuk Han of Hong Kong, 213-207 in the first semi-final match to reach the final.

Futaba Imai winning a gold medal for Japan since 1991

Jensen, who settled for the silver medal, dispatched topseed, Hong Haeni of Korea, 207-198 in the other semi-finals to face the Japanese in the final. Both Hong and Chan took home a bronze medal each as losing semi-finalists.

Meanwhile, topseed Xander van Merijk of Netherlands, brushed aside his challenger and third-seed, Wu Hao-Ming of Chinese Taipei, 224-190 in the finals to win the Men's Singles gold medal. Nothing seperated both title contenders after the first four frames of the title match.

Wu had an opened frame in the fifth while van Merijk also had an opened frame in the sixth levelling the tie again. Both recovered with a double strike in the seventh and eighth frames and whilst the Taiwanese had a match-deciding split in the ninth, the Dutch struck out to seal the match with a convincing win.

The champion had earlier eliminated fourth-seed, Tobias Boerding of Germany, 204-174 in the first semi-finals. Wu, on the other hand, trashed second-seed, Israel Hernandez of Puerto Rico, 226-165 in the other semi-finals to earn a crack at the title.

van Merijk's victory gave his country, Netherlands their first gold medal at the world championships since winning three at the 1995 Reno World Championships in the Trios, Team and All Events.

Xander van Merijk with Netherlands' first gold since 1995

Wu settled for the silver while Hernandez and Boerding took home a bronze medal each. Mr and Mrs Bill Crisman, CEO of Storm Bowling Inc., was on hand to present the medals to the winners at the medal ceremony. Competition will resume with the Men's Doubles event divided into two squads in the afternoon. The top 4 Doubles pairs from the combined squads will advance to the Semi-finals, scheduled for November 28 following the Women's Doubles event.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

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