Youth bowler Shin earns praise with comeback after injury
Youth bowler, 14, earns praise with comeback after injury setback
Two years ago, Shin Zong Yi was one of the youngest bowlers to be picked for the national development programme at age 12.
Despite her potential, it took her some time to make a breakthrough.
An arm injury resulted in a four-month layoff. At one point, she wasn't even sure if she could bowl again.
But, thanks to support from her parents, teachers, friends and coach, the Singapore Sports School (SSP) student has made a comeback.
Earlier this month, the 14-year-old returned from her debut at the Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships with bronze medals in the girls' doubles, girls' all-events and girls' team.
Yesterday, she continued her progress by making it to the masters final of the National Youth Championship, after finishing fifth in qualifying.
Charlene Lim, 18, emerged as the girls' champion, while Marcus Lim, 20, was the boys' winner.
Zong Yi's creditable performances prompted Francis Yeo, the acting national head coach, to declare that she is back.
Yeo said: "She seemed to have had a lot of setbacks, like her injury.
"But it was just part of her growing up and a phase of her life that she has gone through.
"I think she learnt quite a lot from it and, with her progress, I can say that Zong Yi is back and we can start training hard again."
It has been an eventful two years for Zong Yi. Just weeks into training after her PSLE, she felt a slight numbness in her right arm.
Thinking that it was an effect of not bowling for a while, she brushed it off.
She said: "The first time I felt the numbness, it went away in two weeks, so I didn't really bother about it.
"Then it came back in March last year. I felt numbness from my elbow down to my fingers and it persisted, so I went to get it checked.
"Then in July 2016, I found out that I had cubital tunnel syndrome, which affects my ulnar nerve, so I had to take medicine and go for physiotherapy."
The injury also meant that Zong Yi, who was just into her first year at SSP, had to stop training.
She recalled: "I lost confidence. I wasn't sure of how I could carry on with my bowling career.
"But my parents, teachers and friends kept encouraging me to have faith in what I wanted to do.
"Thankfully, it was also nearing the exam period, so I shifted my focus to my studies so that once I started bowling again, I knew my academics were managed properly."
Zong Yi resumed training at the start of the year, but it wasn't all smooth sailing.
The bowling ball felt like a foreign object after a four-month layoff, and she struggled to get her swing right.
"When I first came back to bowling, I felt like I was an entirely different bowler because my bowling was in a mess."
Her coach then discovered that Zong Yi had been bowling with a wrong technique, which could have caused her earlier injury.
She said: "I had to find time, because to change something in my bowling game, it takes about two to three months because of muscle memory.
"I remember the first five steps I did when I threw my first shot. I was actually really scared because I didn't want to get injured again.
"But my coach guided me step by step, and afterwards, my confidence went up."
Among the most valuable lessons she had learnt was communication among her teammates. They had won bronze in the girls' team event at the Asian Schools meet in Sarawak.
She said: "Communication was one of the most important things I learnt because at times, we faced adversity on the lanes, and communicating with my teammates helped a lot.
"They (Fiona Yew and Fion Liew) are my seniors and they're more experienced in this field, so me and Arielle (Tay) were able to seek advice from them, which helped in my performance."