October winner: Bernice Lim

ST Star of the Month: Bowler Bernice Lim is queen of the lanes

Bowling was no easy pick for national kegler, but sport's unpredictability kept her glued to it

She used to be a ballet dancer as a primary school pupil at Singapore Chinese Girls School.

But it was only after Bernice Lim switched to bowling at age 11 that she truly found her calling and has left her mark on the international stage.

The 24-year-old kegler no longer has to balance on her toes and perform pirouettes, but she still exudes grace and elegance on the lanes. The only spins now are the ones she deftly applies on her bowling balls.

Lim said: "I never expected to become a national bowler. It came rather out of the blue while I was exploring different sports. Maybe I was a little bored of ballet dancing and doing all the routines."

Despite dabbling in other sports like swimming, gymnastics, karate, floorball, tennis and yoga over the years, bowling remains her passion.

The full-time bowler said: "I think what attracted and kept me in bowling was how unpredictable and challenging the sport is.

"Some people think that it's easy to just throw a ball down the lanes. But you're constantly learning how to adjust and adapt to the different conditions of the lanes and environment."

MAKING IT LOOK EASY

Some people think that it's easy to just throw a ball down the lanes. But you're constantly learning how to adjust and adapt to the different conditions of the lanes and environment.

BERNICE LIM, national bowler, on the finer points of her sport.

The competition also heats up within the national women's team that is stacked with world-class talents - like world champion Shayna Ng and multiple Asian Games medallist Jazreel Tan - and Lim had to prove her worth among them.

There have been setbacks. Lim missed out on selection for the six-member women's squad for the 2014 Asiad in Incheon.

Lim said: "I was disappointed to miss out on the Asian Games but it was a wake-up call for me.

"The women's team is very competitive because everyone is so strong. You've got to really fight hard to be in the top six.

"There are two ways to look at it. One, there's no point fighting because it's just so competitive.

"But I see it as a challenge because these girls push me to be my best all the time. So I chose to turn the setbacks into a positive motivation for me. I knew I had to step up."

The hard work finally paid off when she became the first Singaporean to win the United States Bowling Congress Queens event in May, the first of the four Majors on the Professional Women's Bowling Association tour.

She demonstrated her ability again at last month's QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Shanghai, finishing third among a top-tier field of 63 bowlers.

Her mother, Angela, 53, said of her eldest of three children: "I've seen how she faced setbacks and got frustrated when other bowlers might be progressing faster than her or when she didn't do well at tournaments but she never gives up.

"She puts in a lot of thought to analyse her own game and overcome her weaknesses.

"Even now after she won Queens, she knows that winning cannot be taken for granted and she wants to maintain her performance."

That was Lim's final competition of the year as an injury to her left knee has ruled her out until next year. She is determined to return stronger and maintain her form, all in the hopes of making her Asian Games debut at the next edition in Indonesia in 2018.

Singapore Bowling's technical and executive director Mervyn Foo, who has known and coached Lim since she was a Singapore Sports School student, said: "Bernice has blossomed and matured and it is finally her time. She's persevered and worked hard to prove herself to be one of the top and main bowlers in the team."

Her stock has risen and so has Lim's goals. She said: "Previously, it was more of making it to the national team and being among the best in Singapore. But now, I want to be among the best in the world."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 20, 2016, with the headline 'Queen of the lanes'. Print Edition | Subscribe