In the realm of sports, where stories of triumph echo through time, there’s a narrative that resonates even deeper—one that entwines the enduring thread of family legacy into the very fabric of achievement.
Enter Blake Walsh, a rising Tenpin Bowling star in Australia, who has etched his mark on the lanes of history while embracing the mantle of his family’s profound influence on the sport. From the picturesque town of Ballina to the global stage, Walsh’s journey is a symphony that harmonises personal passion with a heritage steeped in bowling excellence.
A Triumph that Resounds: Asian Youth Championships Silver
The arena was set, the competition fierce, and amidst it all, Blake Walsh emerged as a silver medalist in the master’s event at the 21st running of the prestigious Asian Youth Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. In his debut appearance for his country, the victory wasn’t just a moment of personal glory for Walsh; it was a testament to years of unwavering commitment, determination, and support from family and friends.
“From a very young age, representing my country overseas has been a lifelong dream,” Walsh reflects.
“To bring home a silver medal and witness the surge of support from back home and online was a truly humbling experience.
“The experience exceeded all my expectations. The camaraderie and warmth extended by athletes from all nations surprised me and left a permanent mark on me. Those memories, the bonds forged, will forever be etched in my heart,” added Walsh.
Embracing his first official Australian campaign, Walsh found himself competing in a Youth Championships. The 17-year-old is currently in the Australian Under 18 National Training Squad, but that didn’t stop the boy from Ballina grabbing the opportunity to represent Australia, no matter the opposition he was set to take on.
This was not unfamiliar territory for Blake. His ascent has been shaped by a relentless pursuit of excellence, a journey that led him to pit his skills against seasoned bowlers in the open division on the Australian circuit.
From the age of 15 years old, Blake has competed in open division events on top of his junior and youth division performances. Runner-up finishes at prestigious open division events such as the Kegel Queensland Open got the community talking with established Australian representative Jarrod Langford providing a glowing reference after edging the youngster for his third successive Kegel title in 2021.
“Blake Walsh is the best bowler I have ever seen for his age. The kid has all the potential in the world, and I honestly think the sky is the limit for him,’ stated Langford.
The desire to compete against the best has been one that has been ingrained into Blake from an early age to help fast-track development as both a bowler and a human being.
“Since I was little, I have bowled with and competed alongside Mum, Dad and my uncle,” explained Blake.
“Mum and Dad have always taught me lane etiquette and drummed into me that if I was going to bowl with the adults, I needed to be respectful and know my place.
“It is these experiences that I believe have shaped me into the bowler that I am today. If I want to be the best, I must play amongst the best, and that is how I feel every time I step on the lanes when I am bowling against the best men and women in the country,” added Blake.
Continuing the Legacy: A Family Affair
The echoes of triumph are amplified when they reverberate across generations. Blake Walsh’s triumphs at the Asian Youth Championships intertwine with a rich history of family legacy.
His father, Cameron Walsh, carved his name in the history books of the same championship, winning three medals in his career, including a bronze in the 1996 masters and a bronze and silver in the 1996 and 1997 events with partner Scott Sadler, creating a storied precedent for Blake.
“To follow in my father’s footsteps is surreal,” Blake acknowledges.
“To have family history down in this event, to me, is incredibly special.
“There has to be a little friendly banter, of course, a bit of teasing, but I was just so happy to bring home the medal for my country, and beating Dad in the process just makes it a little sweeter,” said Blake with a laugh.
The pride of his family back home was unmistakable. “Ecstatic wouldn’t even begin to describe it,” Blake muses, recalling the late-night finish and the celebrations that followed. His family, a cornerstone of his journey, played a pivotal role as mentors and pillars of support.
“I’m very close with Mum and Dad, so of course, they have played a significant role in shaping me into the individual and athlete I am today,” explained Blake. “I would not be where I am today, not even close, so I’m so grateful to have them by my side all the time”.
In the heart of Blake Walsh’s ascendancy lies a profound family connection, an unbreakable bond that nourished his passion from infancy. “From the tender age of 2 or 3, I was virtually living at the local bowling alley,” said Blake. The Bowling Alley, a cherished family enterprise in Ballina, became a second home, infusing in him a love for the sport that would define his destiny.
“Both Mum and Dad, my uncle, and my Nan have all represented Australia on numerous occasions at both the Asian Zone and World Championship level, and my Pop was also the coach of an Australian team back in the day,” explained Blake. “They are all an inspiration to me, and I hope to travel to as many countries, if not more, as they have over the coming years”.
Amidst the triumphant clatter of pins, a family-owned sanctuary emerges—the Ballina Bowl, a cherished establishment owned by Blake’s parents for 15 years.
The bowl isn’t just a sporting arena; it’s a canvas of memories carved with vibrant artwork reflecting a family fun commitment. A great place to work, as Blake does, along with his sister Brianna, meaning the bowl is a real family business.
“The bowl was a haven of excitement since my earliest days,” Blake recalls with a smile. The bowl’s unique charm is enhanced by a striking wall of art across the lanes, and with the recent installation of a 9-hole putt-putt course, Ballina Bowl is an embodiment of the Walsh family’s commitment to fostering a family, joyful ambience.
Ballina Bowl isn’t just a sanctuary for seasoned professionals—it’s a nurturing ground for promising talents. Among the rising stars is Sam Coombs, a champion in his own right after taking out the 2023 Australian Junior Masters in Hobart this year.
“Sam’s victory was a moment of immense pride,” Blake declares. “We have been mates since kindergarten, and I am super proud of his achievements,” explained Blake. “It was so good to see a small country town make a name on the national championship scene, and I know Mum and Dad are extremely proud”.
Blake is grateful for the perks that come with his family owning a bowl. As the youngster ages, so does his appreciation for the business side of owning the Bowl and the hard work it takes to maintain the benefits.
“Seeing the hard work that Mum and Dad put into the business but also providing me with every opportunity to compete in the sport I love is pretty remarkable,” explained Walsh.
“That goes for my sister Brianna as well, who is beginning to make her mark in the sport, and I appreciate being able to turn up and practice whenever I like.
“Yet, with the business being open seven days a week, that poses a definite challenge for Dad to be able to travel as much as he would like”, added Walsh.
This all sounds familiar.
Two-hand bowler. Parents own a bowling alley. Sounds familiar, right?
Blake’s journey bears uncanny parallels with that of bowling royalty- arguably, the greatest bowler on earth – Jason Belmonte.
“I really don’t know why I adopted the two-handed delivery,” said Blake. “I have been bowling since I could walk, and at that age, it was very hard to lift a bowling ball with one hand; hence, the two-handed delivery began, and I have never looked back. Funnily enough, I guess you could say the start of my love with bowling was like the best in the world – Belmo,”.
Blake’s mum, dad and uncle are all good friends with Belmonte and have been for their entire bowling lives.
“I have had a couple of opportunities to bowl alongside him when he has been back home, which has been a dream of mine,” explained Blake.
“He has been someone that I have always looked up to and admired. His achievements in the USA are inspirational.
“Not just his achievements but his path to where he is today. Getting to his level in our sport doesn’t come easy, and he has had to make some serious sacrifices to get there. Seeing him succeed proves that when you set your mind to anything, the sky is the limit,” added Blake.
Jason Belmonte also competed in the Asian Youth Championships in 2001 and 2004. At the 12th edition in 2001 in Hong Kong, China, Belmonte blitzed the field to win gold in singles, bronze in doubles, gold in all events and, like Blake, a silver medal in the masters.
Always one to look forward and push the limits, Blake still finds a way to keep home close and himself grounded with a maturity that far surpasses his age. Amidst the whirlwind of competition, a subtle and cherished relic accompanies Blake wherever and whenever he bowls.
A mini-elephant statue passed down from his uncle (who bowls) that belonged to his late grandmother (who also bowled) has great sentimental value to the youngster.
“Yes, it was there at the Asian Youth Championships with me. I never leave home for an event without it,” said Walsh.
“It was so special to have that there with me as it felt like Nan was right with me the whole time.
“I would have loved for her to be there for that special moment, but I’m sure she was watching and keeping me safe”, added Walsh.
Like all high-performance athletes, Blake is a highly driven person. Yet, he finds a way to remain humble and grateful for the opportunities that have come his way so far. The maturity Blake showcases is a testament to the family behind him, one that not only has tried to provide everything an inspiring bowler would wish for but a 17-year-old boy, ready to take on the world at his feet.
As the applause for his Asian Youth Championships victory fades, Blake Walsh eagerly looks ahead to the Asian Junior Championships in Singapore that is set to get underway from the 21 August 2023.
“I’m very excited for another opportunity to represent my country competing in the sport I love,” said Blake.
“Just like any other event, my goal is to compete to the best of my ability and always give 100%.
“Don’t get me wrong, another medal would be amazing, but making sure I can perform at the highest level and focusing on everything I can control is what’s important to me”, added Blake.
To Blake Walsh, bowling is far more than a mere sport; it’s a potential vocation, a passion that pulses through his veins.
“It has gifted me lifelong friendships, and I’ve come to love the game so much over the past years that it is now an important part of my life,” said Blake.
“I am so incredibly grateful for all the friendships and wonderful adventures I have been on. For me, in the future, I’d love to make it over to the USA, become a professional on the Pro-Tour, and live out my lifelong dream since I was a young kid,” added Blake.
As the curtain falls on another chapter of his journey, Blake Walsh stands as a beacon of inspiration. His journey, illuminated by the spirit of family, fuelled by passion, and enriched by tradition, reflects the ethos of a young athlete who dares to dream and achieves beyond measure.
With a new silver medal adorning his accomplishments and boundless dreams fuelling his ambitions, Blake Walsh’s odyssey from Ballina to bowling glory is a testament to the power of perseverance, family, and the pursuit of excellence.
Tenpin Bowling Australia wishes to congratulate Blake Walsh for winning his silver medal at the 21st Asian Youth Championship Boy’s Masters event. We feel this won’t be the last time we congratulate the promising youngster.