Bowler Joey Yeo added the inaugural Bowling World Open women's singles title to her growing resume in Tokyo yesterday.
The 17-year-old Singaporean beat Germany's Birgit Poppler, 18, by 207-204 pinfalls at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel bowling centre to collect the 10 million yen ($110,000) prize.
"The close scores between us shook me a little bit, but I just focused on my process," said Joey in a phone interview.
Despite her youth, she is already an Asian Games gold medallist, being part of the victorious women's team in Incheon, South Korea, last year.
She also won the trios gold at this year's Asian Bowling Championships in Thailand.
"I didn't really have any expectations for the outcome prior to the tournament," she said. "I just kept my focus throughout."
Yesterday's victory more than made up for the disappointment Joey, a Year 6 student at Raffles Institution (Junior College), felt for missing out on last month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, where the Republic's bowlers won four golds, five silvers and one bronze.
"One of the setbacks this year was that I didn't make the cut for the SEA Games team," she said. "But it motivated me to train harder."
The unending support from her coaches provided a significant boost.
"It was really a lot of effort on the coaches' part," she said.
"They were constantly trying to help us better ourselves."
Clara Lau, who is the assistant national coach, said: "It was a tough battle, with participants from all around the world.
"But three (out of nine) of our bowlers made it to the semi-finals, and Joey winning was the icing on the cake."
Singapore Bowling president Jessie Phua said: "Joey was practically an unknown, yet she, Cherie Tan and Shayna Ng mauled the field even though they were up against pro bowlers.
"It has really been a marathon for the team and any recognition they get is well-deserved."
While the Bowling World Open does boost Joey's chances of competing in December's World Championships in Abu Dhabi, she will still have to fight for her spot.
"The Bowling World Open is quite a big tournament because there were many highly ranked competitors," said Joey.
"However, the decision to participate in the World Championships lies with my coaches. It depends on my performances during the upcoming tournaments."
The US Women's Open, starting on Aug 31, will be the Singapore team's next major challenge.
For now, though, Joey's main challenge is bringing the prize money home. "She told me she's scared to carry such a huge amount of cash," said her mum, Mrs Yeo.
This article was first published on July 13, 2015.
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