Bowler Jazreel hopes to blaze the lanes on home soil

Bowler Jazreel Tan 
tells David Lee that she aims to blaze the lanes 
on home soil

FOUR-MIDABLE: Jazreel Tan (above) has four competitive perfect games to to her name.

You won the National Championships as a 14-year-old and now, 11 years on, you are competing at a SEA Games in Singapore and have another chance to win at home. Are you relishing the prospect of winning in front of a home crowd?

JAZREEL: Yeah, of course! We bowl on home ground every year at the Singapore Open, but it's not labelled "The Games".

I have never bowled in a major competition on home ground before, so it's going to be different, yet exciting. It would mean a lot as my friends and family, who are my pillars of support in my bowling career, can finally watch me bowl at a major.

It would be great to be able to win something for them and Singapore.

How do you feel about being the poster girl of Singapore bowling?

I wouldn't call myself a poster girl, but it's a privilege that I appreciate very much.

I'm very honoured to be given the chance to be able to promote the sport of bowling and also sports in general, and to inspire future bowlers or athletes.

You were also a pretty decent swimmer, winning about 80 medals in school and club competitions. What's the story there?

I specialised in backstroke and freestyle. I also play ultimate frisbee and, occasionally, I play a little football although I am horrible at it. 

I became a bowler when my brother quit swimming and went into bowling. I would always watch him bowl after my swims. Soon, I got interested in the sport and picked it up after I quit swimming.

Any superstitions or pre-match rituals before your competitions?

I draw a smiley face on my hand during tournaments, as it helps to remind myself to stay calm and positive, and to keep smiling.

With four medals, you were the most decorated Team Singapore athlete at the 2014 Asian Games. You could also be the most decorated at this SEA Games with all that jewellery you wear. Tell us more about those?

People who know me would know that I wear a lot of accessories. I love bracelets and can wear five or six on one hand. 

But some of my friends told me I have gone overboard, so I have already cut down by a lot. Other than bracelets, I have multiple necklaces, rings, earrings and anklets on me. 

I broke one anklet that I've worn for over five years, so I was a bit sad. Other than my love for them, I also wear them because there is a story behind most of them.

What has been a typical day like for you in the build-up to this SEA Games? 

My body clock is quite bad, so I don't actually get much sleep. Whatever time I sleep, I'll be awake by 7am to get ready for training. 

We usually reach the alley by 9am for training from 10am to 1pm. On some days, we train double sessions on the lanes. On other days, we train one session and then take a short lunch break, before a strength-and-conditioning session at the Singapore Sports Institute for about two hours. 

Usually, our day ends by 6pm, but sometimes later.

What do you do to unwind?

Stay at home, chill and basically do nothing. 

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

Many people have given me advice. To sum it all up, it is to stay in the present, keep an open mind, never stop learning and never give up.

What is your best memory of bowling?

It has to be winning the team gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. We had been getting really close to world champions South Korea on many occasions, but we had mostly fallen short.

But to be able to beat them on their own home ground was just an amazing moment that words cannot describe.

What is the biggest lesson you learnt from bowling?

Respect and humility.

Which was the best destination bowling has taken you, and what was so great about the place?

If I have to choose one, I've got to be biased towards the United States. I spent four years studying there and I just love going back there. No specific reason though.

Are you single or attached? What do you look for in a man?

I'm single. It sounds cliched, but I want someone who treats me well, is trustworthy and is able to tolerate me.


FACT FILE

Name: Jazreel Tan

Age: 25

Height: 1.64m

Weight: 59kg

Number of competitive perfect games: 4

Major honours: 

2014 Asian Games team of five gold, singles and trios silver, all-events bronze

2011 World Women's Championship doubles and team silver 

2011 SEA Games team of five gold, trios silver, singles bronze

2007 World Women's Championship masters silver

2006 National Championships masters gold

2004 National Championships singles gold

2011, 2012 and 2013 Collegiate Bowler of the Year

2007 and 2008 Sportsgirl of the Year

Be motivated, CDM Tan tells Sports School athletes

Co chef-de-mission Tan urges Sports School athletes to 
show hunger at SEA Games

ALL THE BEST: National sprinter Calvin Kang receiving a poster and mascot from chefs de mission for the SEA Games Nicholas Fang (left) and Tan Eng Liang (centre). 


When he trained with the rest of the national water polo men for the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, he had to swim in brown seawater in a very basic pool.

The conditions did not stop them from undergoing an intense training programme, and using it as a form of self-motivation they went on to bag a silver medal.

Tan Eng Liang was part of the team that went on to collect one more silver and a bronze at the 1962 and '66 Asiads.

He was in the team that used the same sort of motivation to win the inaugural South-east Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games water polo gold in 1965, and collected another in 1967.

That is the motivational spirit that Tan, 77, hopes the current batch of Singapore Sports School athletes will show off at the upcoming South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil, even if they have the state-of-the-art sporting facilities, psychological support and sport medicine aid to help them.

"They are very fortunate now compared to my pioneer generation. But they still need to have the dedication, passion and commitment to the sport," Tan told The New Paper last night at the official send-off ceremony for the Sports School athletes, ahead of the 2015 SEA Games.

"Back then we achieved so much with so little. I hope that the modern facilities (at the Sports School) will spur the new generation to do just as well or even better."

Tan and Nicholas Fang, the two co chefs de mission for the Singapore contingent at this year's Games, officiated the send-off ceremony at Woodlands for the Sport School's alumni and current students who will be representing the nation.

Comprising 101 athletes, the contingent makes up about 13 per cent of Team Singapore at the SEA Games, and Tan believes that the number will continue to grow in the future with the success of the school's programme.

STARS

Established in 2004, the school has produced stars like bowler Jazreel Tan, swimmer Tao Li, sprinter Shanti Pereira and paddler Isabelle Li - all of whom are expected to finish on the podium at this year's SEA Games.

Sports School principal Tan Teck Hock says they are seeing the dividends of investing in their first batch of students who joined a decade ago when they were just 12.

He is confident that the group will return with a treasure chest of medals to send a strong message to parents wondering about sending their children to the sports institution.

"Our representation at the Games is huge, and coupled with a good performance I have no doubt that this will be a significant event to boost the school's reputation," he said.

"In the next few years we could have a happy problem where we have too few slots for too many potential athletes."

Principal Tan shrugged off talk about pressure affecting the students, adding that competing on home soil would spur them on.

"In sports there are only three podium places, but what's more important is that the SEA Games is an opportunity to show what our Singapore athletes can achieve.

"I'm confident that our athletes will utilise the home-ground advantage and give more than their 100 per cent."

Footballers pleased with Games accommodation

SEA Games footballers give thumbs up for their 'digs'

POSITIVE FEEDBACK: The athletes are happy with the food and lodging (above).
POSITIVE FEEDBACK: The athletes are happy with the food (above) and lodging.

Food? Check. Comfortable rooms? Check. Now all that's left is for the Games to begin.

As the various athletes gear up for the upcoming South-east Asia (SEA) Games, the media got a sneak peek into the Days and Ramada Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park yesterday, the allotted accommodation for gymnasts, shooters and footballers.

Days and Ramada are buildings next to each other, with amenities like a swimming pool and a gymnasium to provide athletes the opportunity to work out outside of their respective training arenas.

The Timor Leste football team were spotted splashing about in the pool yesterday, having some fun before the serious business of competition, when they kick off their Group B campaign against Malaysia at the Bishan Stadium on Saturday.

All 11 football teams will stay at the Days Hotel and the Brunei side arrived on Monday.

"From day one, we already instilled the mindset of staying focused, that we are coming here for a mission. Not for shopping or holiday. We are here for football, for participating in the SEA Games and we are ready to go," said Pg Mohd Amirrizal, the Brunei team manager.

"We're training well and our players are in a good condition."

Using a "Village in the City" concept, 20 hotels have been allocated by local organisers Singsoc for more than 7,000 athletes and officials who will descend on Singapore for the 28th SEA Games, which will officially run from June 5 to 16.

The football, netball, synchronised swimming and table tennis events will kick off before the opening ceremony on June 5.

Said Rostam Umar, the chief of manpower and games engagement, Singsoc: "(The absence of a centralised games village) actually enhances the athletes' experience in a couple of ways. It gives them access to what Singapore can offer outside of their training and competition hours.

"Another is the fact that they are housed by sports, helping to facilitate the building of relationships among athletes."

"So, even as they are competitors, beyond the competition, beyond the SEA Games, they actually can remain friends after their respective competitions."

Food is, undoubtedly, of much concern, especially for the foreign athletes.

To make their stay here all the more enjoyable, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) and Singsoc collaborated with all the host hotels to prepare well-balanced meals strictly for the athletes.

"All the meals over the 20 hotels housing the athletes and officials have to be approved by Singsoc and the chef consultant and nutritionists," said Norman Cross, executive assistant manager for food and beverage at the Days and Ramada Hotel.

MENU

Each buffet table across all hotels is tagged with cards printing the nutritional and calorie content of each dish.

The menu is standardised for all hotels and is halal-certified.

When asked about the feedback from athletes and officials, Cross said: "Nothing negative, only positive ones, so I think they are enjoying their stay here so far."

Between the Days and Ramada Hotel, there are 779 rooms.

Each room is outfitted with a flatscreen TV, either a queen-sized or king-sized bed and en suite facilities.

Al-Qaasimy Rahman, the Singapore Under-23 football captain, said the team are in comfortable surroundings.

"This is a luxury for me and my players. You can see that everything is well prepared, the food is healthy compared to the normal food we have outside. And then you can see police officers patrolling around the hotels to ensure all the players' and officials' safety," said the 23-year-old.

"We are ready to give more than our 100 per cent."

Iqbal dropped from SEA Games squad

Striker is biggest casualty 
as Aide names his squad for SEA Games battle

"The coaches felt that there were others who were playing better than him. It was a close call. We have always said to the squad that they will be picked on current form, not how they played in the past." - U-23 coach Aide Iskandar, on dropping Iqbal Hussain (above)

He played in the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, making four appearances for the Singapore Under-23 team that bagged bronze in Myanmar.

He has been a mainstay of the Courts Young Lions in the S.League for the past two years.

When striker Iqbal Hussain heard that he was not included in the final squad of 20 for the SEA Games football tournament which kicks off here tomorrow, he was devastated.

Coach Aide Iskandar delivered the heartbreaking news to nine of the 29 players in the Young Lions' preliminary squad yesterday afternoon.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, the usually shy and soft-spoken Iqbal was clearly upset.

When asked if he was surprised at the decision, the 22-year-old said: "I was surprised, everyone was surprised. I can't say I'm taking the news very well."

The others who didn't make the cut were goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar, defenders Taufiq Muqminin, Zakir Samsudin and Nurullah Hussein, midfielders Shameer Aziq, Muhaimin Suhaimi, Christopher van Huizen and Afiq Noor.

The biggest name is undoubtedly Iqbal, who took to Facebook yesterday to vent his frustrations.

In a lengthy post, the 1.86-metre tall striker said the decision "broke his heart" and that the reasons given to him were "unacceptable and didn't make sense".

He also lamented his decision to defer his National Service three times to be able to take part in the Games.

He ended his post by wishing his teammates good luck and urged them to "win the gold".

Iqbal, who notched his sole international cap when he came on as a substitute for the Lions against Papua New Guinea last September, played only 15 minutes for the U-23s in the 2-0 friendly win over Timor Leste at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday.

He did not feature in the 5-1 drubbing of the Laos U-23s last Saturday because of a groin injury.

But Iqbal said: "I'm 100 per cent recovered now; that was just a minor strain. The coaches' decision to leave me out was down to performances but, for the past few weeks, I have been shifted to a few different positions.

"I've been playing quite often in central midfield, where I hadn't played for quite some time. So I didn't do that well.

"I prefer a more attacking position, whether left, right or centre. Centre midfield takes a while for me to get used to."

Singapore have been drawn in Group A with Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.

They kick off their campaign against the Philippines at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday.

DIFFICULT

Speaking to TNP, Aide said yesterday was one of his most difficult days as a coach.

"It was very hard to cut those nine players, especially Iqbal, Afiq and Nurullah - because they are quality players who have played for me a long time," said the former international defender and Singapore captain.

"Iqbal was not the only one asked to play in different positions. Going into a tournament with just 20 players, it's important to have players who can play in several positions.

"The coaches felt that there were others who were playing better than him. It was a close call.

"We have always said to the squad that they will be picked on current form, not how they played in the past.

"I've told the nine boys not to stop here. They should use this as motivation to work harder and try and get into the national team.

"I want to thank all the players involved in the SEA Games preparation. They are still part of our family and, if we do well, their names will still be next to ours."

S'PORE'S SEA GAMES FOOTBALL SQUAD

  • Goalkeepers:

Syazwan Buhari, Rudy Khairullah

  • Defenders:

Al-Qaasimy Rahman, 
Amirul Adli, 
M Anumanthan, Shakir Hamzah, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, 
Fadli Kamis, 
Ho Wai Loon

  • Midfielders:

Adam Swandi, Safirul Sulaiman, Shahfiq Ghani, Faris Ramli, 
Stanely Ng, 
Pravin Guanasagaran, Shamil Shariff, 
S Suria Prakash

  • Forwards:

Sahil Suhaimi, Irfan Fandi, 
Amy Recha

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