After finishing 10th among 16 boys in the all-events to qualify for the Masters at the Asian Youth Tenpin Bowling Championships, Xavier Teo upped his game to win the gold medal in Kuching, Sarawak, yesterday.
The 18-year-old Singaporean trailed overnight leader Shahrukh Amin of Malaysia by 38 pinfalls after the first block of eight games, but finished strongly in the second block to finish with 3,569 pinfalls on the final day of the April 17-25 tournament.
He qualified for the stepladder final as the top seed ahead of Malaysia's Muhammad Hafiz (3,499) and South Korea's Moon Ha-yeong (3,450).
Hafiz beat Moon 224-165 to earn a shot at the gold against Xavier and edged the first game 225-224.
But the Ngee Ann Polytechnic student bounced back with a 208-202 for a combined score of 432-427.
Xavier called his five-pin victory his "greatest" achievement ever.
He said: "During the stepladder final, I just told myself to be in the present, thinking only about the processes as the outcome was uncontrollable.
"This competition is very important to us... (and) shows that everything I have been working on back home, like focusing on the process, is working out. And I will continue to work even harder."
In the girls' Masters, Charlene Lim took the bronze behind champion Gillian Lim of Malaysia and South Korean Shin Hye-bin.
Lim, 20, was second overall after the two blocks of 16 games, but settled for third after she lost 200-191 to Lim in the first round of the stepladder final.
Said the Republic Polytechnic student: "I haven't been bowling well all week. It was terrible.
"All I wanted was to contribute another medal to the team and have another shot to redeem myself."
The Republic ended their campaign with six golds and three bronzes, bettering their previous best in the biennial tournament in 1983, when they won four golds, one silver and three bronzes.
Other than Xavier's triumph, Singapore won the boys' and girls' all-events and team titles, as well as the boys' doubles.
National head coach Helmi Chew praised the team, saying: "In this outing, we learnt a lot about the character of our players and even the coaching team.
"This will help to build the bond and team spirit among the team and help us move forward to achieve better results."
Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua said: "It's a sterling performance by the entire team. An entire village worked hard for these emerging bowlers and we are thankful they kept their composure, dug deep and delivered.
"We are very happy that our young guns are on track and we hope they will stay the course as they have every opportunity to be our future world champions."