Published March 20, 2009
But one Special Olympics bowler has a few tips for the president on how to improve his score.
Tim Maloney, a 38-year-old with Down Syndrome who has been bowling for 30 years, said the president needs to practice more if he wants to bring his recent score of 129 anywhere close to Maloney's average of 165.
"Focus, take his time, and relax" were the simple-but-effective tips Maloney offered the president in a phone interview Friday with FOXNews.com from his home in suburban Milwaukee. "Keep your eyes on the alley."
Maloney also competes in basketball, golf and track and field. In 2007, he won the gold in the 800-meter speed walk and a silver in the 400 meter speed walk at the international Special Olympics in China.
But Maloney said he enjoys bowling most, because "I stay around my dad and my friends and loved ones."
Maloney comes from a bowling family. His father, Larry Maloney, said he bowls a 190; his mother, Nancy bowls a 160; and his sister, Shawn, who also competes in the Special Olympics, bowls a 125.
Obama bowled 37 on the campaign trail last year, drawing hoots of derision from supporters and detractors alike.
Appearing on "The Tonight Show," the president told Leno he'd been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129. Then he rolled a gutter ball by quipping: "It was like the Special Olympics or something."
On his way back to Washington on Air Force One, Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, to say he was sorry -- even before the taped episode of the "Tonight Show" aired late Thursday night.
Shriver accepted his apology but told FOX News on Friday that the joke still stung.
"This is a population that struggles every day to be accepted," he said. "It's the population that has as its greatest challenge to not be humiliated, to not be made fun of, to be valued every day.
"Children going to school with special needs are trying to find ways to fit in, trying to find ways not to be the butt of a joke," he added.
But Shriver gave the president credit for his vision.
"This is a moment where the president realized right away he was the pupil in this lesson," he said.