ARTICLE AND IMAGE BY NEAL BOYER, POST-TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT
Bob "the Bull's-eye Guy" did it again.
Bob Owen won two gold medals and two silvers at the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah last month.
The Gary resident has amassed 40 basketball medals in 11 years competing at worlds in scenic St. George, Utah.
He took gold in the free throw/3-point contest and in 5-on-5 basketball playing with Valparaiso residents Gary Germann and Ron Komp, both of whom play noon ball at the Valparaiso YMCA. They won the title game by 20 points.
That capped the 65-year-old Owen's long week and he felt it. "My left knee swelled up," he said. "I was hobbling the last couple games so I focused on passing and setting up teammates."
His wife Shirley, 68, won gold medals in free throw/3-point by sinking 17 of 25 free throws -- underhanded -- and in the hotshot contest, shooting from various spots for one minute. Bob got silver in 3-on-3. "I played down in 55s to play with friends in tougher competition," he said. "We should've won; we lost the final by one point on a last-second 3-pointer." Bob earned silver in his 65-69 age group in hotshot with a score of 45.
He saw a Florida man set a world record with 61 points. "He just didn't miss," said Owen, who twice held the record (at 50 and 52 points). Regaining that world record was his main goal coming in. Owen trained harder than ever, often five days a week, to drop 28 pounds (down to 178) on a strict diet.
He lifted weights twice a week and took 50,000 basketball shots. It paid off when he did what thousands of gamblers try to do daily -- strike gold in Vegas. The couple doubled down by cleaning up at the Nevada State Senior Games in Las Vegas. Shirley won gold in free throws and around-the-world and Bob set a state record with a whopping 60 points in hotshot. "I hit 12 straight shots, a 3-pointer and 11 from 18-feet for my best ever score," he said. The old mark was 51, set 18 years ago.
He also won gold in the state free throw/3-point contest, making 24 of 25 free throws (his first free-throw miss in four years of senior games competition) and hitting 4 of 5 treys just as he did at worlds.
"All my training paid off," said Owen, who never played high school basketball. "My goal was 83-85 percent on 3s and I did it. One day in practice I hit 24 of 25 treys. "I want to be the best. Not just better. That's how I train and how I teach. I train and teach against perfection, not against my competition. God rewards effort." Owen is helping Lew Wallace players this fall with motivational talks and shooting demonstrations. His trick shots include taking free throws with his eyes closed, hitting 92 percent due to muscle memory, compared to 96 percent with his eyes open.
Owen has no plans to slow down. "No one has ever got a perfect score in the free throw/3-point contest at the world games. There are at least 134 competitors each year. Perfect is 25 of 25 freebies and 6 of 6 on threes for 43 points. I've missed by one shot four or five times. I want to be the first; I'm right there," Owen said. "If not me then I'd like to see a friend do it," said the charter member of the National Basketball Shooters Association, an elite group of shooters from coast to coast.