Siblings Howard and Keith win first men’s bowling doubles gold since 1997
Pairing up for the first time, Saw brothers Howard and Keith win first men's bowling doubles gold since 1997
They are brothers but have never competed together in a bowling doubles event.
As such, few would have bet on Howard and Keith Saw winning the SEA Games gold medal in their first competitive outing as a pair.
But, roared on by more than 200 boisterous fans who shouted themselves hoarse at the Orchid Country Club, the Singaporean siblings upset the odds to take gold in spectacular fashion yesterday.
Combining for 2,653 pinfalls, the Saw brothers beat Indonesia's silver medallists Ryan Lalisang and Billy Islam by 25 pinfalls, as Malaysia's Johnathan Chan and Timmy Tan took bronze with 2,574 pinfalls.
This is also the hosts' first gold in the event since Jack Wong and Tommy Ong won it at Jakarta 1997.
Singapore's other pairs Joel Tan and Justin Lim (2,353) finished in 11th spot while Javier Tan and Muhd Jaris Goh (2,331) were 14th.
Although they led after every game except after the third, the Indonesians caught up with Howard and Keith after the fifth game and the scores were deadlocked at 2,209.
In fact, Ryan and Billy were still in it going into the final frame of the last game, but Howard struck out his last three shots to seal the win.
As actor Chen Tianwen's viral hit Unbelievable played out after the medal ceremony, it was true that the opponents were "stunned like vegetables" to lose to an experimental duo.
"Talking about the win now still gives me the chills because this is something I dreamt about, standing on top of the podium with my brother, winning in front of our family and friends," said 20-year-old Keith, who teared up as he sang Majulah Singapura.
"We got off to a good start but, when we couldn't get the strikes in the third game, we managed to grind and make the spares.
"With the crowd cheering so hard, I thought we were leading by a lot. I didn't know it was so close. But the home support played a big part, and we are grateful."
Howard, 22, who had to retreat and refocus before sparing with the second throw on the ninth frame of the last game, said: "I felt the nerves, and I would rather take a step back and make sure I make spare than to miss.
"Before we were paired together, I won a bet with my teammates that I would be grouped with my brother.
"We use similar balls with the same material and we throw around the same area, so it makes sense.
"We have been bowling for 11 years and we are brothers, so we know each other's game well. We can scold each other and not get offended because we want what's best for each other."
Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua cut a happier figure after the rousing win, which lifted spirits after her female bowlers unexpectedly failed to win a medal in the women's doubles earlier in the day.
She said: "I told our team psychologist to tell the boys, this is their time to fly the flag.
"Javier's (Tan) bronze medal in the men's singles on Tuesday helped to give them self-belief.
"And even if they really kept me on the cliff's edge, Howard and Keith really stepped up."
National coach Remy Ong was obviously pleased to see his unwavering faith pay off big time, and said: "The federation, coaching staff and players put in a lot of effort to put everything together.
"We can't control where the medals will go to, but we can make sure we are a force to be reckoned with and that we are not in it just to make up the numbers.
"It's good that the men's team have won a doubles gold early, but we won't be contented with what we have."