It has taken a decade of trying, but Jazreel Tan can finally call herself a SEA Games individual bowling champion.
Since making her debut at the 2005 edition as a 16-year-old, the Games has been a constant source of heartbreak for her.
So, there was only relief and vindication yesterday at the Orchid Bowl, after she produced a sublime performance to capture the women's masters gold.
She had come out tops with 3,497 pinfalls for the 16-game qualifying segment, and carried that form into the grand finals as she beat team-mate Daphne Tan 516-353 over two games.
Said Jazreel, 25: "To finally win a championship by myself is just amazing and feels so sweet."
Narrow misses had become an unwanted association with her at the SEA Games. She has a masters silver from 2005 and a singles bronze from 2011 to go with her runner-up finish to Daphne in the singles event last week.
Said Jazreel, who also picked up an individual silver and bronze at last year's Asian Games in Incheon: "For a while it felt like this tournament was going to end up like all the others and I was going to miss out again."
Her aim, however, proved to be unerring on the medium oil pattern - which she had chosen as her prerogative for being the top seed - and she bowled 17 strikes for back-to-back 258 scores.
Said Daphne: "Jaz got off to a great start and I tried everything but couldn't catch her. She bowled amazingly today."
In fact, Singapore's female keglers were astonishingly dominant in the masters competition. All three spots in the stepladder finals were taken by them, the first time this has happened since Malaysia did so at the 1993 Games.
Singapore's Shayna Ng, who qualified second with 3,424 pinfalls but lost to Daphne (3,418) in the stepladder finals, did not receive a bronze.
It went to sixth- placed Indonesian Tannya Roumimper (3,379), in accordance with SEA Games rules that do not allow a nation to occupy all three podium spots.
In the men's masters, Thai Yannaphon Larpapharat defeated Malaysian Rafiq Ismail 414-381 to claim the gold.
Malaysia finished top of the standings with five golds, one silver and four bronzes. Singapore (four golds, five silvers, one bronze) were second.
Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua was more circumspect in her assessment of the women bowlers, who faltered in the doubles and team event.
She said: "It's a bit disappointing as the medal haul is not reflective of their world-class calibre. At least we ended on a high."
This article was first published on June 15, 2015.
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