The Singapore men's bowling team lost to a world-class American side in the semi-finals of the quadrennial World Bowling Men's Championships but still secured a historic bronze medal yesterday.
Basil Ng, Keith Saw, Jonovan Neo, Darren Ong, Jaris Goh and reserve Joel Tan struggled to string strikes together at the South China Athletic Association bowling centre in Hong Kong. However, they were awarded a medal despite their 238-194, 216-189 loss in the team-of-five event as losing semi-finalists automatically place third.
Italy, who pipped Canada 176-162, 210-244, 190-179 in the other semi-final, surprisingly went on to beat the Americans 189-169, 210-166 in the final.
The semi-finals and final were played in a best-of-three Baker format. In a team of five, this means the first player bowls Frames 1 and 6, the second player bowls Frames 2 and 7, and so forth.
Despite the defeat by a more experienced team with an average age of 32.8, compared to Singapore's 22.3, Ng had no regrets. The 21-year-old said: "As bowlers, we are in control of only our own process and execution, and not the outcome.
"Our responsibility is to commit to our shots, which I feel we did.
"This tournament showed us the different lessons learnt from previous competitions played a big part in our development and motivated us to reach greater heights."
ALL GROWN UP NOW
We are very happy to be part of the team that created history. It is like a graduation for us, from boys to men.
JARIS GOH, national bowler, on clinching Singapore's maiden medal in the World Bowling Men's Championships.
Goh, a 23-year-old who will compete in today's Masters event for the top 32 bowlers, added: "This has been a great opportunity to bowl with and learn from the best and we are very happy to be part of the team that created history. It is like a graduation for us, from boys to men."
The team's latest achievement is a continuation of the upward trend that the nation's elite male bowlers have experienced in the last 16 months.
It comes hot on the heels of Alex Chong, Goh and Ong's men's trios bronze at August's Asian Games in Indonesia, as they became Singapore's first male bowlers to win an Asiad medal since 2010.
Last year, Cheah Ray Han, Timothy Tham, Ng, Ong, Goh and Saw topped the Asean field and ended Singapore's 22-year wait for a men's team bowling gold at the SEA Games in Malaysia.
Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua said: "We are extremely proud of this team and the secret to the team's success is belief - from the bowlers, coaches, parents and everyone at Singapore Bowling. We will continue to support these bowlers and pray they will receive the support they deserve from the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) too."
The team are now aiming to equal or better their results from the last SEA Games, and do well at the Asian Bowling Championships but their progress could be affected with Ng, Neo, Ong and Goh due to enlist for national service next year.
National head coach Helmi Chew, who thanked sponsors and the SSI for their support, added: "We will be preparing for next year's SEA Games and we have a training programme lined up to equip them and help them improve for upcoming competitions.
"We also have a weekend schedule for those in NS. The team understand the commitment and sacrifice required to achieve greater success."
WORLD BOWLING MEN'S C'SHIPS
Masters s-finals & final StarHub Ch203, 3pm