National bowlers benefit from US stints
Training and competing in the US help to raise bowlers' game to another level
In her 14 years as a bowler, Cherie Tan has travelled to many countries and won numerous medals, both at the regional and international level.
But the 27-year-old had a eye-opener earlier this year, when she competed in the US Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) circuit with other national bowlers such as Jazreel Tan, Shayna Ng, New Hui Fen, Bernice Lim and Daphne Tan.
While Cherie also competed on the same circuit last year, albeit in just two tournaments on consecutive weekends, the Singapore keglers spent twice as much time there this year, on top of training stints with bowling products company Storm, which sponsors the Singapore Bowling Federation.
The extended stint has shown in the bowlers' results, with Cherie winning the Sacramento Open, while Lim, 24, claimed the USBC Queens title, a major event on the PWBA calendar, in May.
Teammate New, 24, then beat Cherie in the season-ending PWBA Tour Championships final early last month, and also clinched the Rookie of the Year accolade (see story on facing page).
Cherie said: "It is a steep learning curve bowling in the US because they compete for 14 weekends in a row.
"You learn something from a tournament and you have just days to rectify your mistakes before the next tournament comes along, so we really gained a lot in terms of competition exposure and intensity."
She added that interacting with established American bowlers such as Kelly Kulick during tournaments also helped her understand the various styles, strategies and mindsets of the top professionals in the field.
A major part of the success this year has been a deeper collaboration with Storm, both Lim and Cherie said.
The bowlers learned from representatives from the company on the finer aspects of equipment selection, and these representatives were also present at the tournaments to help the keglers choose the right equipment.
"I have been working on my game, such as my ball speed, since the start of the year, and that worked hand in hand with the right equipment chosen at Queens. I was in the zone and everything just went well," said Lim, who competed only in that tournament in the US.
SBF technical and executive director Mervyn Foo said the bowlers have also been utilising technology, such as the Dartfish video analysis software, to help them improve.
The former national bowler said: "Our aim is to prepare them for major events like the World Championships and the Asian Games in the next two years.
"SingaporeBowling will have to be ready to win medals at such major tournaments at all times, and all our training is geared towards that readiness."
The training and competition stint in the US has given the bowlers more confidence, as they gear up for other competitions such as the China International Open this weekend, the QubicaAMF World Cup later this month, both in China, and the World Singles Championships in Doha in December.
They will also be competing in the South-east Asia Games in Malaysia next year, when the hosts, with world-class men's and women's teams, are expected to give Singapore a stiff fight.
Said Cherie, who is at the China Open: "The US stint has definitely helped us improve because it is a higher level of competition on that circuit, where you have to constantly grind out performances and results on lanes and lane conditions that you're not familiar with."