The outstanding Australian talent Seth Gray not only secured two medals at the 22nd Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championships in Singapore but also won the admiration of up-and-coming bowlers. More than the accolades, his dedication, journey, and commitment to the sport resonate and inspire.
At the tender age of 4, Seth Gray, hailing from Frankston, Victoria, stumbled upon bowling for fun. However, it was when he was eight years old that things changed. When attending a national championship to support his brother representing Victoria, Seth knew he had found his calling.
“I always said that I wanted to do better than him,” Seth laughed. “Watching my brother sparked my interest, which became a passion when I realised where bowling could take you in the world and how many people you can meet and befriend on the way”.
Growing up in a family of bowlers, Seth became a regular at Zone Bowling Frankston, his home bowl. Bowling in three leagues a week, he could often be seen rolling big scores, boasting an average of around 215.
As the years passed, Seth gradually increased his involvement in the sport, and he didn’t have to venture far to find inspiration and guidance.
Zone Bowling Frankston is a hotbed for talented bowlers, with many Australian representatives calling it their home. Rubbing shoulders with some of these names, Seth took the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the country.
“I’ve looked up to many different people for different things,” explained Seth.
“I’ve always looked up to Bec Whiting and Bek Martin for their mental and physical game, but I’ve also looked up to Adam Hayes for all his knowledge in bowling, and some of that knowledge helped me get those bronze medals in Singapore”.
Selected for his first National Training Squad in 2023, Seth’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of extraordinary. Making his long-awaited debut for Australia at the Asian Championships, he realised that the road to success is not always straightforward and sometimes out of your control.
“Coping with the setbacks caused by COVID was my main challenge,” Seth revealed.
“Being unable to bowl, I also grew 2 feet in the break, so when I returned, I was very out of touch with the sport.
“The only way I could overcome it was to commit to various drills, coaching sessions, and hard work” added Seth.
Equipped with a new approach, Seth also towered most others his age. Now standing at 6 foot 2 tall, Seth is an imposing figure standing next to his peers, and he uses every muscle in that frame to its extreme, whipping the ball down the lanes with his two-handed delivery.
The two-handed style, made famous by Jason Belmonte, but now widely adopted worldwide, is beginning to be present in more representative teams. Why two hands? The exact reason for many bowlers who choose to do the same.
“I started bowling two-handed because when I was younger, I didn’t have the strength to throw the bowling ball one-handed, and it felt better throwing it two-handed than it did one-handed, and I was more accurate bowling two-handed” explained Seth.
Overcoming the challenges faced in the years prior, Seth had to endure patience to realise his dream of representing his country. Named in the 16-person squad for the Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championship, Seth arrived in Singapore brimming with hope.
As the Championships kicked off, Seth was assigned to Squad A for the singles event and quickly realised that he was a long way from home after a slightly nervous start.
His first two games of 159 and 180, painted a picture of the understandable nerves of someone making their debut in Australian colours. As with the other challenges he faced, he remained composed and explored ways to improve.
Heading to the coaches for guidance and a new plan, Seth started the third game a different bowler, finishing the singles event with scores of 245, 199, 232, and 204. The total score of 1,219 was the best for the Aussie boys in the squad, and the performance handed Seth a 12th-place finish.
“I felt happy with what I could do after getting through the nervous start and making a new plan on the run with the coaches,” explained Seth. “That night following the singles event, I found out that I was paired with Blake, which made me super happy and had full confidence that we could bring home a medal for Australia”.
With seamless teamwork and chemistry, Seth and Blake Walsh would proudly secure the bronze medal in the doubles event for Australia, outranking challengers from Qatar, Kuwait and Singapore. Rivals on the national circuit, the two Australian boys who bowl two-handed came together to achieve something special.
“For the doubles, I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate, Blake Walsh is the best of the best, and to be able to bowl with him and have fun while doing it was an amazing feeling,” said Seth.
“Blake is a massive role model to so many, including myself.
“The teamwork allows us to both freely bounce off each other and share very similar information about what’s going on out on the lanes. The fact we bowl very similarly helps even more”.
As the championship progressed, Seth began to feel more comfortable in his surroundings, and consistency began to shine through. The Victorian would finish in 14th place on the boy’s All-Events standings to sneak into the pinnacle event of the Championship – The Master’s.
The top 16 performing bowlers would compete in the exclusive event, and Seth’s performance was inspiring.
Finishing in 8th place after the first block of eight games, Seth showcased his grit and determination as he continued to battle on day two. Slowly but steadily, Seth started to climb the ladder. With the top 3 bowlers to compete in the Stepladder finals, Seth sat in sixth spot with one game left of the master’s event.
As he had previously done in the Championships, Seth saved his best for when it mattered most, scoring a 244 game and collecting a win bonus of 10 pins to catapult the Victorian up the leaderboard into 3rd place, qualifying for the stepladder final.
“The masters are definitely hard,” explained Seth with a smile.
“I tried to stay in the moment, have some fun and talk to my coaches who kept me relaxed.
“My emotions were very up and down for the masters because I actually didn’t know that I had made it, but when I found out, I was over the moon,” added Seth.
Seth’s journey peaked in the inaugural stepladder final, where his incredible streak ended with a score of 225-195 against Singapore’s Aiman Lim. Despite this, Seth added another bronze medal to his accolades, making his country proud.
Juggling academics, rigorous training, and competitions is no small feat, particularly when it involves extended stays in foreign lands. This becomes even more daunting during one’s final school year.
“Balancing studies and bowling is tough due to the constant travelling. However, I ensure I stay on top of my school assignments and always communicate with my teachers regarding my absence. This way, I can catch up promptly upon returning,” shared Seth.
Seth is passionate about bowling. But what about when he’s not on the lanes? He cherishes music and outdoor adventures with friends. Yet, bowling remains his foremost passion, and he has ambitious plans for the future.
“One of my goals is to be able to go to college bowling over in the States in the coming years”, explained Seth. “I would like to improve my game even more and hope to start winning some more things and get my name out there even more”.
Given his trajectory, it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more about Seth Gray.
His transition from a young league bowler to a bronze medallist on the international stage speaks volumes about his firm commitment, patience, and adoration for bowling. With his eyes on a bright horizon, Seth is destined to stamp his mark in the world of tenpin bowling, carving a legacy filled with passion for the sport.
Every achiever often becomes a beacon of inspiration. This is true for Seth, as budding bowlers now view him as a role model. To those eager to emulate his journey, Seth offers some profound yet straightforward advice.
“Keep training and enjoying the sport of Tenpin Bowling,” said Seth. “This sport is one of a kind, and hard work does pay off over time, so just keep working and having fun”.