SINGAPORE - The Republic's bowlers have never won the men's and women's team titles at the same SEA Games before, but they are hoping to change that next month in Hanoi as both squads have set their sights on gold.
To tackle the lanes at the Vincom Megamall Royal City's Heroworld Bowling Center, which are made of a different surface than the one at their base at Temasek Club, the national keglers have been training at Punggol Safra.
Despite having fewer competitions over the past two years due to Covid-19, they have also used this period as an opportunity to work on other aspects of their games.
Timothy Tham, 23, said: "There have been no tournaments in the past two years but I feel like it's a period of time for us to work on our mental game, figure out things about ourselves and mature to a different level.
"Going into this, we will have a different mental mindset - we appreciate the opportunity to compete more."
The Republic has won four men's titles (1977, 1983, 1995, 2017) and the women's event five times (1975, 1987, 1991, 2011, 2019) at the biennial Games.
Tham, who was part of the men's team that struck gold in 2017, was speaking at Wednesday's (April 27) SEA Games send-off ceremony organised by the Singapore Sports School (SSP). About 90 of its student-athletes and alumni will be at the May 12-23 regional event.
It was attended by chef de mission S. Sinnathurai, a former national taekwondo athlete and SEA Games champion.
Tham was joined by Muhammad Jaris Goh, Darren Ong, New Hui Fen, Bernice Lim and Daphne Tan. Cherie Tan and Cheah Ray Han will complete the teams headed to Vietnam.
This year's Games were slated to take place in November last year, but were postponed owing to the pandemic and New was glad to see their return.
"It's good that instead of it being cancelled, they're finally going on with it," said New, 30, who won three golds (women's singles, masters and team) and a silver (doubles) three years ago in Manila.
"We're looking forward to representing the country at such a level."
She and her teammates are also hoping to win medals in the singles and doubles events this year - the masters category has been dropped.
Ong, 25, is looking forward to competing again after he did not participate at the 2019 edition.
He said: "It's great to finally be back and represent Singapore again. For the singles event, if I'm able to represent the team for the event, getting a medal would be the goal.
"For doubles, top three is definitely something we will look forward to and same for the team event.
"In 2019, we weren't able to get gold so hopefully we'll get it back."