Jamie Hickey gave a pretty straight up answer when asked how he felt about his gold-medal win in Winnipeg.
“I’m the best bowler in Canada and it feels good,” the soft-spoken 11-year-old kegler said Tuesday from Winnipeg, where he was waiting to catch a flight back home.
The Benoit’s Cove native, who hones his bowling skills at the Corner Brook Centre Bowl, made his debut at the 2014 Youth Bowling Canada Nationals. He won the bantam boys singles crown with 20 points, just one better than Xavier Singfield of British Columbia.
“It was really close, right down to the last game it was,” Hickey said.
Close and intense would be the way to describe how things unfolded on the final day of the three-day championship event. Hickey and Singfield were tied with 19 points apiece until Hickey came through with a solid effort against Alberta in his last game to clinch the title. Singfield had the bye in the final round, so all Hickey had to do to avoid a tie-breaker was eke out a win over the Alberta bowler.
His coach Chris Rumboldt was anxious to talk about the drama on the lanes before the title was in the books.
“He pulled it out in the last couple of frames,” a proud Rumboldt said from Winnipeg while waiting to fly back home.
“They were neck-and-neck and then he strung three strikes in a row.”
It was a title well deserved, said Rumboldt, because Hickey kept his head in the game from start to finish. Actually, Rumboldt said, the young bowler seemed to enjoy the crazy atmosphere with several hundred people watching him.
“He wanted it and he stayed focused the whole time,” the coach said, noting he had only had to reel in his bowler on one occasion, when Hickey appeared to be working too fast.
The scene at the lanes after the last ball was an emotional one for all bowlers and coaches who were part of the Newfoundland and Labrador contingent, Rumboldt said.
“The place just went up. Everybody had tears,” he said. “It was just amazing.”
Hickey admits he was dealing with nerves in his last game, but he quickly got those under wraps when he fired his first of three strikes in a row in the 10th frame.
However, Rumboldt said his bowler’s calm demeanour down the stretch led him to believe Hickey was getting a good kick out of the attention.
“Some 200 people standing behind watching him bowl — he absorbed it and he was just loving every minute of it,” Rumboldt said. “He could have bowled another 10 games.”
Hickey was just happy to get an opportunity to represent his province on the national stage before he fired his first strike in Winnipeg. He had been close on several occasions, but never made it happen until he won the provincial crown earlier this year.
It’s a debut he’s not likely to forget anytime soon, and today he walks around with a gold medal hanging from his neck.
“People all congratulated me because they thought I deserved it and gave me high-fives,” he said.
He plans on bringing his medal to school for his friends to look at it, but then he wants to put it in a safe place where he will be reminded of his special time in Winnipeg.
“I’m going to put it on my wall,” he said.