Howell Smith takes aim during the air rifle event at the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Photo Christopher DiVirgilio
Athletes get in the groove of the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games
Larry King just grabbed the right bowling ball.
Or maybe it was his physical therapists – Eunice Andrade and Carmen Depina – who helped give him an edge with their presence and provide him some good luck.
Whatever the reason, he gave credit for his ramp bowling success at Wednesday’s first day of the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) in Philadelphia to everyone but himself.
An Army veteran who lives in Brockton, Mass., Kain rolled three games of 193, 186 and 171 at Laurel Lanes in Camden, N.J. – finishing with a solid 183. 3 average and giving on-lookers some waves of excitement.
The 60-year-old recorded two strikes and two spares in the first four frames of his first game. Then in the second he did himself one better – ending the 10th and final frame with a spare – knocking down nine pins and then one with a nasty last-second left curve – and a strike.
“I don’t know [why my ball was so good]. I just stole it, “King joked. “They [my trainers] usually go with me.”
Veterans get ready to show their bowling skills during the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Photo Christopher DiVirgilio
Andrade suggested maybe they’re his good luck charm.
“He’s always been good when we go,” she said.
Injured 45 years ago, King is attending his fifth NVWG. Despite his bowling success, he admitted he usually performs better. Still, it was all fun.
“I usually get at least a 200. But that’s OK. I’ll go with that,” he said.
Jemal Williams wished he could have some of King’s luck.
The 45-year-old from Los Angeles kept finishing frames by hitting nine pins the first roll and zero on his second.
“The only frustrating thing about it was that I was hitting it right on. It’s like a pitcher throwing a strike and the umpire not calling it – that close, you know what I mean?” Williams said. “I like to pitch. I know the strike zone and when I line it up the technique is still there and it’s still not going down, that’s what makes it frustrating.”
Williams loves the NVWG though. This marks his 10th year in attendance since he was injured in August of 1999. He was playing softball and slid headfirst into second base and hit his head on the second baseman’s shin, leaving him with paralyzed with a C-5, C-6 and C-7 injury.
“I like the camaraderie and competition, the one-for-all and all-for-one experience, even though we’re competing against each other,” Williams said.
Track and field events, along with air rifle kicked the National Veterans Wheelchair Games off Wednesday. Track and field happened in the morning and afternoon despite Tuesday’s heavy rain.
Mark Watson, 51, competed in air gun Tuesday and will compete in nine-ball later this week. The C-7 quadriplegic is in his fifth NVWG and was enjoying his experience so far.
“I always liked to shoot,” said Watson, who lives in Needville, Texas, and donned a cowboy hat. “I’ve shot for many years and just enjoy shooting.”
Wheelchair basketball action also occurred Wednesday, but no medal results from any events had been posted as of 9 Wednesday night.
Thursday's action starts at 8 a.m. ET with air rifle, bowling and nine-ball.