Rick Lilly, a Weber State University bowler, has won his second gold medal in the World Transplant Games for Team USA in Goteborg, Swedenduring after a two day competition.
On the first day of the tournament, Lilly won the Bowling Singles event at Strike & Co. Lanes in Goteborg, and on the second day, he won the Bowling Doubles event with his doubles partner Mike Layne from Oklahoma. Lilly’s best score in the tournament was 241.
“I was excited to have duplicated my gold-medal performance that I had in Gold Coast, Australia, back in 2009, but I was filled with relief more than anything,” Lilly said.
In November 2010, Lilly had to have brain surgery that left him with not only a scar on his head, but also a seizure disorder and balance issues. He said he was afraid that this would affect his performance in Sweden. He said the gold medal win in Sweden helped him to know that, with practice and perseverance, he could conquer his health adversity. This has given him a newfound confidence and the will to keep going, he said.
“I won the tournament through great spare-shooting and the ability to read the breakdown of the oil on the lanes,” Lilly said. “Don’t get me wrong, I threw lots of strikes; in fact, in my third game I had six in a row to finish the game. The conditions were tough, but I was able to stay consistently in the pocket.”
In the singles event, Lilly bowled against 65 athletes from 52 countries. He beat an Australian (silver medal) and a Croatian (bronze medal) out for the gold medal. He beat the Australian by 30 pins.
In the doubles event, he bowled against 30 teams from 30 countries. Lilly and Layne beat an Iranian team (silver medal) and an Australian team (bronze medal). They beat the Iranian team by 120 pins.
Lilly’s wife, Emily, was there to support him for the two-day tournament. She said she was very happy for him to compete with other players.
“Rick has been through tough times, but his excellent attitude and hardworking mentality have brought him out of his most difficult times with a smile on his face,” she said.
Many obstacles stood in the way for Lilly, but he said he was always able to draw confidence from the fact that he had put in the practice and was prepared.
“One of these forms of inspiration is knowing that you are well prepared for the competition,” Lilly said. “This inspiration comes from my coach at Weber State University, Fred Meaders.”
Lilly said that the things Meaders taught him were always on his mind during the competition. Another inspiration that he said helped him earn his medals was his father, Bennie Lilly, who gave him a kidney almost 14 years ago.
“Without his love and an extreme act of kindness, I would not have even had the chance to compete,” Lilly said. “It was an even sweeter victory because my dad was sitting right next to me on the lanes, giving me words of encouragement as I bowled for my gold medal.”
Lilly said he was also thankful to his sponsor, Storm Bowling Products, which, along with Wildcat Lanes, helped with fundraising so he could travel to Sweden.
As to what he would say to those who are in the same situation as him, Lilly said, “I would say to them, ‘Don’t give excuses to why you can’t do what you dream. Make goals and meet them so your dream can become a reality. You never know until you give it your best shot.’”
Since he was able to earn a medal in the 2011 World Transplant Games, Lilly has been invited to Durbin, South Africa, in 2013, where he will try and give Team USA its third gold medal in a row for bowling.