Between the hesitant promise and its fulfillment, very few words were exchanged. Which should really not be surprising to those who know Krizziah Lyn Tabora well.
Like her parents, for instance.
“She’s very shy,” said father Junky, with the 62-year-old businessman’s wife, Thelma, smilingly nodding in agreement.
Before leaving the country under little hype, Tabora got her mission order from the legendary Bong Coo. “Bring home the cup, okay?” Coo asked her.
“All I said was ‘sige po,’ because I really did not know what else to say,” Tabora said. Even if she searched within her for words to respond, she might not have uttered them anyway. Tabora shies away from speaking in front of people, most especially people who are legends in her sport.
“I can never talk in front of an audience,” she said.
She can, however, bowl. And recently, Tabora let her bowling do all the talking, coming from beyond everyone’s stream of consciousness to emerge the country’s latest World Cup heroine after ruling the prestigious tournament in Hermosillo, Mexico, earlier this month.
You’d think she would have found something to say the moment it became apparent that she had clinched this year’s edition of the QubicaAMF event. But as the strikes lit up her score monitor and just before the crowd gave her an emotional slow-clap ovation, she turned her head to teammate Jomar Jumapao and all she could muster was a single word.
“Grabe,” she said. “That was all I could really say. Grabe.”
But maybe that was all she needed to say. Maybe the best way to express herself was in a Filipino word used to convey a sense of overwhelming. A word with several English definitions but no direct translation that could serve her better at that moment.
After all, what could we have expected from an unassuming 26-year-old thrust into the pinnacle of her sport?
Look at it from her perspective: Only seven previous times had someone brought the Cup home—and in four of those instances, one man was responsible for the feat, the legendary Paeng Nepomuceno. Other Cup winners included Coo, CJ Suarez and Lita dela Rosa. Nepomuceno, Coo and dela Rosa are all enshrined in the Bowling Hall of Fame in Arlington, Texas.
So how does Tabora find the verbal proficiency to encapsulate her feelings about joining those list of legends as World Cup winners?
She didn’t. She didn’t need to. After all, she flew to Mexico on the wings of little expectations.
“To be able to represent the country, as an athlete, that already is a great thing for me,” she said.
And as she climbed rung after rung in the World Cup rankings, the expectations and pressure surprisingly eased up knowing she had accomplished more than she had set out to do.
“When I was in the semifinals, I said that was already a good enough accomplishment. Then when I was in the final, I told myself, the worst I could finish is silver and that’s not bad. But since I was already there, the athlete in me wanted to compete,” Tabora said.
Since this was her first time to make the World Cup final four, she had little inkling how she could go about competing. Could she eat lunch? She had a tiny bite of a burger and that was it. Could she roll a few practice balls? She tried to get a few tips from her semifinal foe, Rocio Restrepo of Colombia, “but she was being a little bit snobbish, though,” Tabora said. “She wouldn’t talk to me. I think she was starting to play mental games with me already.”
Her Malaysian finals foe, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, was more accommodating.
“Siti and I have been friends for a long time so I just got a few tips from her,” she said.
And that seemed to be all she needed. Through 10 frames, she more than held her own against Rahman, hammering out a decisive 236-191 victory.
“World Cup. Is this true? World Cup champion,” the words kept ringing in her head as the crowd acknowledged her victory over Rahman. Somewhere just before the final frame, the Malaysian star snuck in a low five to Tabora, an athlete’s respectful concession, before hugging Tabora at the end of the match.
It’s been a frenzied whirlwind of activities for Tabora since then. Interviews here and there. Media appearances. Photo and video shoots. She surprised herself by acquitting herself well during interviews, but she admitted that some things will take a lot of getting used to.
“A lot of times, I really don’t know how to go about those things. I’m not good at giving out interviews. And I’m really shy,” Tabora said.
Not to worry, though. With a superb, steely performance in Mexico that brought the country to World Cup glory, there’s very little else that Kryzziah Lyn Tabora needs to say.
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