SINGAPORE - It may be their first international competition since the pandemic struck, but the lack of overseas experience over the past two years did little to stop Singapore's youth bowlers from bagging three gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the 21st Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championships in Bangkok this week.
For Ashley Lok, who clinched a gold (singles), silver (doubles with Nur Irdina Hazly) and bronze (team with Nur Irdina, Jerlyn Lam and Taneisha Kaur Teo) at the Blu-O Rhythm & Bowl Ratchayothin in Bangkok, the medals she won are a result of the team's hard work.
"It is a reminder of how much it took for me and my team to win," said the 16-year-old Singapore Sports School (SSP) student who is also with its bowling academy.
"Whenever I look at the medals, I'll think about the amazing memories I have made with my team and nothing can beat that feeling of fulfilment."
Ashley believes the five-week training camp and four-week peaking cycle in Singapore before the competition were crucial in getting the team ready for the tournament as it prepared them to bowl for long hours and in different environments.
Fellow SSP academy mate Shirlene Wong, who clinched two golds in the doubles (with Lim Shi En) and the team (with Shi En, Ashley Lim and Rachel Ong), as well as a silver in the singles, shared the same sentiment.
The 17-year-old said: "Despite coming from different academies with different experiences, we worked our way from the bottom and built a strong foundation together. We started training long before the competition, and before the oiling pattern was disclosed.
"Hence, we prepared for any kind of lane play and that equipped us with skills to tackle the lanes at different point of times. When we were bowling, lanes were not the exactly the same as what we anticipated, however, with the knowledge to play different parts of the lanes, it was not too big of an issue for us to overcome."
The boys' team comprising Leroy Kwek, Brian Ngoi, Ryan Goi and Mathieu Louis also clinched a bronze on Wednesday (Aug 17) with a 5,060 pinfall total, behind gold medallists Hong Kong (5,299) and Malaysia (5,240).
Leroy said: "This medal is a validation of all our efforts since the start of our peaking cycle, it is also part of our entire 21-man team's contribution to Singapore in this tournament.
"The strong chemistry within our team and especially with our coach David Tay really propelled us forward into the podium as we cheered each other on even when we did not bowl up to our expectations."
Ashley Lok, Ashley Lim, Shirlene, Shi En, Nur Irdina and Rachel, who finished in the top 16 in the girls' all events, will be taking part in the Masters finals, which will be contested on Thursday and Friday.
Competing in the boys' Masters are Leroy, Brian, Joshua Gaza Soo, Zephyr Liew and Mathieu.