Marcus Houghton has quickly made quite a name for himself in New Zealand tenpin bowling lanes.
The 18-year-old from Tauranga took up the sport just three years ago and will soon make his New Zealand debut after knocking over most of the tournament titles in his path.
In 2015 Houghton won the Tauranga Classic junior section in his first year bowling and bronze medals followed at the TBNZ Youth champs in Porirua in teams and individual categories.
Last year he won the Wellington Cup Youth and Tauranga Classic Junior titles before defending his Wellington title earlier this year and finishing second behind his Tauranga-based coach Josh Stretton, 20, at the 2017 National Youth Team Championships.
All this good form has attracted the attention of the national selectors. In January he will take on the best of the young Australian bowlers in Sydney with the New Zealand Junior team.
"I started bowling through my mum Raelene who used to bowl and decided to get back into it. I just had a passion for it and started practising every day and got a lot better. Now I have started winning tournaments and just was named number one bowler in New Zealand for under-21s," Houghton said.
"Everyone is amazed how quickly I have done it because usually tenpin bowling takes a lot longer. It is an easy game to learn but a hard game to master."
What appeals to Houghton about the sport is why he thinks more young people should consider taking it up.
"I love most about just how much fun it is, plus I like meeting new people and how competitive the sport it is. Mostly it is about having fun.
"There is a lot of technical work that goes into the action to perfect your bowling. It is all in the wrist movement, your legs, hips, arms - there is a lot that goes into the art of tenpin bowling. I have a lot to thank my coach Josh Stretton for, and my mum of course."
New Zealand rep bowler Stretton set a new record at the 2017 Open Nationals held at Tenpin 13th Avenue when he bowled a 1438 series to beat the previous record of 1433.
He said Houghton had his own unique style which helped his game.
"The way he bowls helps naturally. He doesn't use a thumb, he uses two fingers, which helps him generate more of a rev rate so the ball rotates more, which creates more power down the back end and makes the pins bounce around a bit more."
Tenpin bowling may have a small profile in New Zealand but in America it has large professional leagues with scholarships offered to young bowlers at universities.
That is Houghton's ultimate goal.
The only thing holding him back in the financial cost of competing in tournaments. His trip to Australia is proving difficult to fund so any donations would be gratefully received.
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