SINGAPORE - Former world champion bowler Remy Ong has stepped down as head coach of the Singapore men's and women's national teams.
The 36-year-old left the post with immediate effect on Saturday - just a month before the World Tenpin Bowling Championships begin in Abu Dhabi.
Ong had the blessing of Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua, who allowed him to leave to pursue a business venture.
He told The Straits Times that - after a nearly three-year hiatus - he will return as a professional kegler, starting with the Qatar Open at the end of November.
Admitting his "hands are itchy to bowl again", the two-time Sportsman of the Year (2003 and 2007) noted that "an exciting business opportunity came along" .
Together with a friend, he has founded Sponzer Group, a digital marketing firm aiming to build the branding of athletes across the region.
Ong said: "It's sad for me to go, but it was entirely my decision.
"There are risks involved with starting my own company but I felt the time had come to do it, and it's always been a passion of mine to help athletes away from the sporting arena."
Ong took on the national coaching post full-time in Jan 2013 after a sparkling 18-year career. Among the southpaw's greatest achievements: bagging a hat-trick of gold medals at the 2002 Busan Asian Games (singles, trios and masters).
Under his coaching charge, the women's sextet of Cherie Tan, Daphne Tan, Shayna Ng, Jazreel Tan, New Hui Fen and Bernice Lim shone.
They clinched the team gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, as they pipped a world-class South Korea team on their home soil, as well as a silver at this year's Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships.
While the men have largely struggled to follow in Ong's dominant footsteps, brothers Howard and Keith Saw still bagged a doubles gold at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
Phua said: "It's sad to lose Remy, but he has decided to embark on a different career. But there is no anxiety on my part as we have a group of five to six fellow national coaches who can adapt and adjust to make up for his departure."