HANOI - The SEA Games women’s bowling singles title has stayed in Singaporean hands since 2011 and that streak will continue as a familiar champion was crowned in Vietnam on Monday (May 16).
Cherie Tan, champion in 2011 and 2017, struck gold again after registering 1,442 pinfalls at the Vincom Megamall Royal City’s Heroworld Bowling Centre to top the field of 12. Marie Alexis (1,320) of the Philippines was second and Tan’s teammate and defending champion New Hui Fen settled for bronze with 1,319 pinfalls.
Tan, 33, said while she was ecstatic with the result, she also felt a huge sense of relief.
“The pressure to win gold for the Singapore team is quite high because we’re one of the more experienced ones out here and we always have a target on our backs coming for the SEA Games,” she said.
“I don’t really let the pressure get to me when I’m bowling because I’m focusing on making each shot.
“It’s at the back of my head but I have lots of experience dealing with it.”
In a nail-biting afternoon, New had been leading at the midway point while Tan was third. But Tan bowled a magnificent 278 fourth game to take a 63-pinfall lead over Indonesia’s Sharon Limansantoso (898). New (883) dropped to third.
Tan continued her blistering form in the next game, scoring 275 to extend her lead to 116. She then sealed the gold in the final game, knocking down 206 pinfalls.
While Tan had been confident, she was surprised to win by such a large margin. She said: “I thought I was in quite good shape during the official practice so I was confident of my shot-making.
“But in practice and competition, you may not play the same, so I kept an open mind to stay (in the) present and make adjustments.
“It’s awesome (to extend Singapore’s winning run in the event). It shows we have depth in our squad and (the title) has been rotating between a few Singaporeans, so it really speaks volumes of our team.
“It’s great to win but at the end of the day, the job’s not done because we have two more events (the doubles and team) and I’m looking forward to them.”
Daphne Tan won the 2015 title on home soil while bowling did not feature in 2013.
New, 29, admitted she was slightly disappointed but was glad that her teammate won.
She added: “It’s a very happy thing because Singapore won, so it doesn’t matter whose name is behind the gold medal as long as we’re singing Majulah Singapura.
“Definitely it’s a good morale booster (for the doubles and team events) but it doesn’t represent anything because every day is a new day and it’s not guaranteed that the days ahead will be the same as today, so we just have to keep an open mind.”
In the men’s singles, 2019 joint-bronze medallists Cheah Ray Han and Jaris Goh finished sixth (1,203) and 10th (1,166) respectively. The Philippines’ Merwin Matheiu
Tan won with 1,292 pinfalls, ahead of Thai Yannaphon Larpapharat (1,286) and Indonesia’s Ryan Leonard Lalisang (1,221).
But Cheah and Goh were not too upset about the result, stressing that their main aim was to get as much information as possible on the lanes ahead of the doubles and team events.
Cheah, 22, said: “We gave our best but sometimes our best just isn’t enough but that’s OK. We took a few lessons (on what equipment to use) from today so moving forward, we will be more prepared.
“(This result) definitely won’t affect our morale. If anything, it makes us more hungry to want to fight for the team and doubles medals.
“The team gold is the ultimate goal here so everything we do is in preparation for that and, once we get our processes right, we’ll be prepared to gun for the team gold.”
Singapore have won four men’s team titles (1977, 1983, 1995, 2017) and the women’s event five times (1975, 1987, 1991, 2011, 2019) at the biennial Games.
Jaris added that he wants to work on staying calm and enjoying the present and not get too excited about competing in a major Games again after three years.
On his confidence of winning the team gold, he said: "Anything can happen so it's very hard to give an answer. In the last frame, something can change and someone can strike to take the win. But what we can guarantee is we will do our best and push all the way to our limits."
The Republic has won four men's team titles (1977, 1983, 1995, 2017) and the women's event five times (1975, 1987, 1991, 2011, 2019) at the biennial Games.