Bowler's perfect game fails by a single point
Tenpin bowler Nicholas Breant needed only one more pin to fall to achieve a perfect game last Thursday. The performance by the newest member of Hong Kong's junior tenpin bowling team stunned spectators at the 2011-12 Inter-school Team Championships.
The 14-year-old, who had joined the squad only two weeks before, achieved 299 points in one game in the competition - earning him the trophy for claiming the highest individual score on the day.
'I went through the selection process run by Hong Kong Tenpin Bowling Congress in March and started training with the junior team earlier last month,' Nicholas says, whose previous personal-best score of 269 had come during training.
His total is the highest on record at any inter-school individual and team tournament since 2006-07.
Eight days earlier, the Year Nine student at King George V School, in Ho Man Tin had finished seventh overall, scoring a total of 576 points, in the individual tournament.
The rising star - who has a French father and Chinese mother - bowled in three games in the team event.
In his first, he managed only 161. He improved in his second to score 259 points.
His record-scoring efforts in the third game saw him claim 11consecutive strikes - where he knocked down all 10 pins with one ball - and nine pins in his last throw to achieve a total of 299.
Everyone at the bowling venue had been nervously holding their breath during final stages of Nicholas' third game.
As only two lanes were still in use, everyone else moved behind Nicholas' lane to watch his outstanding performance.
Nicholas had wanted to do well to inspire his two KGV teammates, who don't receive professional training.
Thirty points from his overall score of 689 were automatically deducted because of the handicap imposed on all Hong Kong team players. But the KGV team still scored 1,439 points to finish sixth in the boys' team category.
Nicholas says: 'I was quite nervous during the individual tournament. But in the team event, I was kind of pressure-free at the start. I knew my points from individual games would also be posted, and just wanted to achieve a higher score.'
However, he admits he was starting to shake with nerves when bowling the two additional balls in 10th frame of game three.
'I told myself to try to treat the remaining two throws in an ordinary way,' he says. 'But I still felt enormous pressure when I was throwing the ball. After I'd thrown the last ball, I knew I'd missed the side pins, and I really did.'
Despite his imperfect end to a such a stunning performance, Nicholas was given loud applause from the crowd and other students, who had been watching.
Nicholas is hopeful that he can continue to develop as a player, and has set his sights on earning his living from the sport in the future.
'If I compare myself to some older teammates, for example, 18-year-old Michael Mak Cheuk-yin, he won numerous prizes in local and overseas tournaments.
'I hope I can be as good as him one day - or be even better when I turn 18,' he says.