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One bowler says president out of his league

Kolan McConiughey, shown bowling in Ann Arbor, Mich., yesterday, wants to give the president some pointers. Kolan McConiughey, shown bowling in Ann Arbor, Mich., yesterday, wants to give the president some pointers. (paul sancya/Associated Press)
Associated Press / March 21, 2009
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - So President Obama thinks he bowls like a competitor in the Special Olympics?

He's obviously never met Kolan McConiughey, a mentally disabled man considered one of the nation's top Special Olympics bowlers, with five perfect games to his credit. He'd like to go to the White House and show the president a thing or two about how to roll strikes.

"He bowled a 129. I bowl a 300. I could beat that score easily," McConiughey said yesterday.

His challenge to Obama followed the president's offhand remark Thursday night on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" comparing his famously inept bowling to "the Special Olympics or something." Recognizing his blunder, Obama apologized to the chairman of the Special Olympics before the show aired.

During an interview, the 35-year-old McConiughey quickly rolled several strikes with his left-handed hook in a short demonstration of his prowess at Colonial Lanes in Ann Arbor.

In addition to five perfect games since 2005, McConiughey has also had an 800 series and carries a 212 average. He laughed as he joked about the popular president's apparently poor game.

"I'd tell him to get a new bowling ball, new shoes, and bring him down to the lane," said McConiughey, who has been bowling since about age 8 and finds time to bowl in three leagues. "Keep his body straight, his arm straight, and keep his steps straight. He has to practice every single day."

With an IQ less than half of the 100 considered average and a serious stutter, McConiughey lives with his foster mother and has held the same job at a grocery store for 16 years. He greets customers, sweeps floors, and maintains the store's break room.

"He can't read much, can't do math, can't do bill-paying," said his foster mother, Jan Pardy. "Kolan faces all these challenges, but he has an area of genius, and his genius is bowling."

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