The women’s bowling trio of Esther Cheah, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi delivered Malaysia’s first gold medal in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games today, the fourth day of the Games.
The trio ended a 24-year drought for the gold in Asia’s biggest multi-sports meet after downing 4,326 pins at the Jakabaring Bowling Centre in Palembang.
Compatriots Sin Li Jane, Natasha Mohamed Roslan and Shalin Zulkifli had to settle for fourth place after recording 4,144 pinfalls.
The silver and bronze were won by Pan Yu Fen, Chou Chia Chen and Tsai Hsin Yi (4,255 pins) of Taiwan, and Yeo Ruo Qi Joey, Tan Daphne Shi Jing, Lim Bernice Hui Ying (4,250 pins) from Singapore.
Earlier, in the first block in the morning, Cheah, Siti Safiyah Amirah and Syaidatul Afifah came out tops with 2,184 pinfalls, followed by Sin Li Jane, Natasha Mohamed Roslan and Shalin Zulkifli in second place (2,151 pins).
The last time Malaysia won gold in the event was at the 1994 edition in Hiroshima, while in 2002 in Busan and 2006 in Doha, the women's teams won silver.
After the triumph, the national women’s bowling squad is now more confident of bagging the team event gold – despite organisers introducing a new scoring system known as the Frame Scoring System, and changing the event from teams of five to six.
“We will go all out in the team event. Though before this we targeted one gold only, the team gold is very important because that is the event everyone is looking forward to,” the most senior member in the team, Cheah, told reporters after the prize-giving ceremony.
“It was a very close fight today…We were just trying to keep the pace. I am so glad that when I bowled badly, they covered me, when someone else bowled bad, others covered, it is a very good trio actually.
The 32-year-old Cheah was part of the team when Malaysia won silver in the 2006 Doha edition. Sharon Koh, Wendy Chai, Zandra Aziela, Shalin and Choy Poh Lai are the other keglers in the women’s team in Indonesia.
Esther also hopes that today’s gold feat inspire will other Malaysian athletes competing in this Asiad to produce their best performances in their hunt for medals.
“This is a surprise gold for everyone. We have got the ball rolling, we are sure more golds will come, this is not the end for Malaysia,” she added.
Meanwhile, national head coach Holloway Cheah requested a better performance from his charges in the in the men’s trios tomorrow and women’s team event on Friday.
“We have been training and preparing very-very hard for this Games… Hopefully in the team event we will play better. Today it was very close, between one or two strikes only.
“For the men’s trio team, everybody knows the competition will be very tough and very open. Anyone who performs on that day will win. Almost six or seven countries are almost of the same standard,” he said.