For most of the past decade, the Singapore men’s national bowling team have played second fiddle to their female counterparts, as the women’s bowling team clinched titles and gold medals and were regarded as one of the world’s best.
Since 2017, however, the men’s team have began to make waves themselves, starting with a gold-winning effort in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, ending Singapore’s 22-year wait for a men’s bowling team gold.
In August 2018, they outshone the women’s team at the Jakarta Asian Games, winning a bronze medal in the trios event – the first Asiad medal won by male bowlers since 2010.
They followed it up in December with arguably a more impressive feat – another bronze in the World Bowling Men’s Championships, Singapore’s maiden medal at this prestigious tournament.
On Tuesday (12 February), the men’s team – comprising Basil Ng, Darren Ong, Keith Saw, Joel Tan, Muhammad Jaris Goh and Jonovan Neo – were honoured at the Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) Chinese Year/Awards Celebration dinner. The team received a special memento for their sterling efforts, while Goh scooped the most prestigious award of the night, the SBF Bowler of the Year.
Communication was key to success
Goh, who turned 24 on Monday, is widely regarded as the emotional leader of the men’s team, and he told Yahoo News Singapore that he learnt a lot about himself and his teammates amid their success in the last couple of years.
“I think communication was key – among ourselves, with our coaches and with our team managers,” he said. “We always tried to focus on the team, helping one another overcome their difficulties. That was the biggest takeaway for me in the last few years, and I hope it can carry us on towards the upcoming competitions.”
Inevitably, this year’s focus for the men’s team will be on defending their SEA Games gold in Manila in December. Already, Goh can foresee the challenges that lie ahead, not least of all because 13 out of 18 national men’s bowlers – including himself – will have do national service this year.
“We are planning compete mainly in Asian competitions – Qatar, Dubai, Philippines and Malaysia. The main thing is not to be preoccupied about winning the gold, but to focus on what we need to do, and the processes needed to bowl consistently well,” he said.
Aiming to rebound after rough year
The Youth Bowler of the Year award went to 21-year-old Joey Yeo. The 2015 World Open champion continued her steady rise as a top women’s bowler, claiming a trios bronze with teammates Daphne Tan and Bernice Lim at the Asian Games and finishing second at last year’s Singapore Open.
Yeo admitted that 2018 had been a rough year for the women’s team, as they failed to retain their Asian Games team gold won in the 2014 Incheon edition. Nevertheless, she said, “Moving forward we have come up with new plans, and have revamped our training going into 2019.
“Our main events this year are the World Women’s Championships and the SEA Games, but in between those events, we will also travel to compete with professionals around the world.”
Despite their struggles last year, the women’s team – comprising Yeo, Cherie Tan, Daphne Tan,
New Hui Fen, Jazreel Tan and Shayna Ng – still received a special memento from SBF for winning a team silver at the World Bowling Championships.
SBF also gave out the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport of Tenpin Bowling to former national bowler Ronnie Ng, who won four gold medals at the 1983 SEA Games and served as an SBF coach from 2008 to 2018.
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