Bowling head says Singapore women can win all
Bowling chief Phua says her female bowlers can conquer all at SEA Games
Such is the strength of the six-member women's South-east Asia (SEA) Games bowling team this year that 2008 world champion Jasmine Yeong-Nathan and 2014 Asian Games team gold medallist Joey Yeo failed to make the cut.
Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) president Jessie Phua and head coach Remy Ong were not willing to give a gold-medal target ahead of next month's Games in Singapore, but Phua was bullish about her women's team.
Speaking at a pre-SEA Games media conference yesterday at the SBF office at Jalan Besar, Phua said: "People may say that I am arrogant, but the reality is that for the women's team, the golds are ours to lose.
"For the men's team, I have been eyeballing their progress and I am very impressed. If they can control their emotions, it's all there for them.
"I can't imagine a team that are better prepared than us."
While the Republic was the top South-east Asian bowling nation at the Incheon Asian Games last year, with one gold, two silvers and a bronze, they will face stiff competition from the Malaysians at the SEA Games.
Ten gold medals - five men's and five women's - will be up for grabs at the Orchid Country Club (OCC) from June 9 to 14.
Singapore's training squad of 16 bowlers, including Yeong-Nathan and Yeo, have been practising intensively at the competition venue for the past two months, with each bowler having his or her notebook filled with peculiarities of the changing conditions of each lane.
The SBF left final selection as late as possible, only recently announcing the two squads, with Brandan Tan and Ng Chiew Pang missing out in the men's team.
Head coach Ong explained: "Since we're competing on home ground, we want to make sure that we leave nothing out. We want to make sure that we choose the best six players for each team at this moment to conquer the lanes at OCC.
"My seventh and eighth players can make this team any time. They are that close, they are just a hair's breath away from this group of players."
In the 12-strong team are three pairs of siblings - Howard and Keith Saw, Justin and Bernice Lim and Cherie and Daphne Tan.
"I am really excited for my brother Howard as it will be his first major tournament after missing out on a lot of opportunities because of A levels and national service," said Keith, 21.
"For myself, I am the only one in the men's team who has competed in the SEA Games, so this Games is not about exposure any more."
"I have to step up and do my part for the team," added the Republic Polytechnic student, who made his Games debut in 2011.
Phua warned that competing on home ground could also be a "disadvantage" if the bowlers let the additional pressure get to them.
She said if Singapore win a medal, regardless of colour, in every event, it would be a "very satisfying" outing at the Games.
The Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president added: "Ultimately, when we roll the first ball during the competition, it's really about management of emotions and lining up (to the lanes) as swiftly as possible.
"If we can get these two right, anything is possible."
- Where: Orchid Country Club bowling centre (non-ticketed)
- When: June 9 to 14
- On offer: 10 gold medals
- Historical medal haul: 44 golds, 36 silvers, 44 bronzes
- Milestones: The keglers first contributed to the Republic's overall medal haul at the 1975 South-east Asian Peninsular Games in Bangkok, where they won five golds, six silvers and six bronzes The bowlers collected eight gold medals at the 1983 Games at home, their best haul of victories in a single SEA Games.
- The team: Women - Jazreel Tan, Cherie Tan, Daphne Tan, Bernice Lim, Shayna Ng, New Hui Fen Men - Keith Saw, Howard Saw, Muhammad Jaris Goh, Joel Tan, Justin Lim, Javier Tan
- Did you know: National coach Remy Ong was a lane marshal at the 1993 SEA Games at home. He recorded the scores for the lane where Singaporean Alice Tay won the women's singles title at Victor's Superbowl.
- TNP's prediction: Three gold medals. The much-vaunted women's team are expected to deliver the goods again, but will face stiff competition from a strong Malaysian team, as well as individual bowlers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.