Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno: Greatest Filipino Athlete of All Time
Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno (born January 30, 1957 in Manila) is a six time World Bowling Champion Filipino bowler. He has won the World Cup of Bowling four times (1976, 1980, 1992 and 1996). Nepomuceno has also won the World’s Invitational Tournament in 1984 and the World Tenpin Masters championship in 1999.
He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for three records:
1) for most Bowling World cup wins,
2) for being the youngest ever to win the Bowling World Cup (at 19 years of age),
3) for having won the most number of bowling tournament titles. In total, Paeng has 118 career bowling titles. Paeng who still actively competes up to this day is the only bowling athlete to have won or awarded titles in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
He is the only bowling athlete in the world who has received the prestigious International Olympic Committee President’s Trophy and was the first international male bowling athlete to be enshrined in the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum based in St. Louis, Missouri in 1993 where his seven foot image is displayed at the Museum’s entrance.
In November 1999, the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) named Paeng as the “International Bowling Athlete of the Millennium.”
In a ceremony held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates during the World Championships, an FIQ official cited Paeng with these words: “No international bowling athlete is more deserving of recognition than Paeng. In addition to his long list of well-known achievements as a world champion in three decades, Paeng truly has been and continues to be an extraordinary ambassador for Filipino sport.
Paeng is the only athlete in the Philippines who has been given the highest award to a Filipino by three Philippine presidents.
In 1984, Paeng was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
In 1999, President Joseph E. Estrada awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor.
In 2008, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo awarded Paeng the Order of Lakandula with Class of Champion for Life and was declared Best Filipino athlete of all time.
Both the Philippine Senate and House of Congress have declared Paeng the “Greatest Philippine Athlete of All Time”.
In its September 2003 issue, the Prestigious Bowlers Journal International named Paeng as the Greatest International Bowler of All Time.
Paeng was named Athlete of the Century by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in the end of 1999 and Athlete of the Millennium in 2000. The Philippine Sportswriters Association has named him Philippine Athlete of the year a record 5 times.
He was the first athlete to be inducted in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1993. Both house of Congress in the Philippines named him “Greatest Filipino Athlete” in 1999.
Paeng bore the Flag of the Philippines in various World Games, Asian Games and the South East Asian Games.
On April 19, 2009 Paeng became the first and only bowling athlete to receive all awards in all categories that the World Bowling Writers gives out. He was the recipient of the World Bowling Writers Mort Luby Jr. distinguished service award for his lifetime contribution to the sport. Paeng was also honored by the World Bowling Writers by naming him World Bowler of the Year three times (1984,1985 and 1992)
He was also the first inductee to the World Bowling Writers Hall of Fame in 1993.
He was also a TOYM awardee for sports in 1978 and he is the youngest up to this date to have received this prestigious award given by the Philippine Jaycees.
Nepomuceno was also inducted into the De La Salle University Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
At present Paeng has been designated by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) as its International Bowling Ambassador for Bowling and promotes bowling around the world and he also Certifies Coaches for USBC.He is still active in competition and only last May 5, 2009, he established a new four game Philippine National Record when he rolled games of 300,299,268 and 256 for a scintillating average of 280.75 per game. He also bowled 23 strikes in a row when he bowled a perfect 300 game followed by a near perfect 299 game.
• He is the ONLY bowler who had received the prestigious International Olympic Committee President’s Trophy. This award was the highest award given to any athlete and only Paeng received it for a non-Olympic sport like bowling.
• He was the youngest Filipino who won the 1974 Philippine Open. Usually one of the characteristic of a G.O.A.T. is that they set records that is not easily beaten and it stands the test of time.
• He won his first World Cup In Tehran, Iran on November 19, 1976.
• He won the second Bowling World Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 1, 1980.
• Nepomuceno also won the International Tournament championship in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 8, 1984.
• He won his third Bowling World Cup in Le Mans, France on November 8, 1992.
• He won his fourth Bowling World Cup in Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 23, 1996.
• Paeng won the World Tenpin Masters championship in London, England on March 7, 1999.
• Paeng is honored with two records in the Guiness Book of World Records. He was the youngest (at 19 years old) person to win the Bowling World Cup and for winning 4 World Cup which is the most wins of any bowler in history.