Bowling was therapy for PH sporting legend Coo | Inquirer Sports

Bowling was therapy for PH sporting legend Coo

/ 09:36 PM June 15, 2020
Bong Coo

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

MANILA, Philippines — Easily one of the most decorated Filipino athletes of all time, bowling legend Olivia “Bong” Coo said greatness wasn’t something that she had plotted when she dabbled into the sport.

“It was a therapy for my separation,” she told the Sports Lockdown webcast over the weekend. “I married very early. My parents were very strict, so I eloped at the age of 17.”


“What I saw was merely an opportunity,” she said of her first forays in the sport, adding it afforded her time to take her mind off of things during a turbulent time in her life.

Coo said she started playing the sport at the age of 21. Half a century later, she is regarded as one of Philippine sport’s greatest athletes.


Her long list of accolades includes four World Championships, a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, and one of the first two women enshrined in the International Bowling Hall of Fame.

“I asked myself, how could my children be proud of me? I was just a housewife coming off a failed marriage,” she added.

“I might as well be good at it,” she said.

Coo, in high spirits throughout the chat that included fellow Philippine sports icon Eric Buhain, said her habits also had a hand in her success.

“I was just bowling. All the time,” she said. “I had no time for ‘sosyalan.’”

“I spent most of my time at the bowling center really wanting to be good,” said Coo, whose majority of milestones were notched during the Gintong Alay program, which later on succeeded by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Coo was recently under the national spotlight after serving as one of the flagbearers during last year’s Southeast Asian Games here. She was with Buhain, another swimming legend in Akiko Thomson, track star Lydia de Vega, basketball’s former poster boy Alvin Patrimonio, billiards wizard Efren Reyes, boxing great Onyok Velasco, and another bowling Hall of Famer in Paeng Nepomuceno.


Now 72 and currently serving as the Philippine Bowling Federation’s secretary-general, Coo said she is coping with the coronavirus pandemic by praying and also playing with her pets.

“I think they’re not used to me suddenly being around all the time,” she said with a chuckle.

Coo also said that she is still trying to keep her aging frame in tip-top shape, squeezing the occasional brisk walk once in a while.

“Lost a bit of weight, too, since I don’t like gaining weight,” she said. “All of that while monitoring the national team.”

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TAGS: Bong Coo, Bowling, Philippine Sports Commission, Sports
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