SEA Games: Deserving gold for Malaysia's Cheah

SEA Games: Deserving gold for Malaysia's Cheah
CHEERS FOR CHEAH: Esther Cheah (above) on the way to winning the doubles gold with Sin Li Jane yesterday.

It was a women's singles bronze she felt she didn't deserve.

After all, Malaysian kegler Esther Cheah, who finished fourth, collected the medal only because Singaporeans dominated the top three, and the SEA Games diplomatic rules do not allow a clean sweep in any one event.

This is why, after yesterday's big win in the women's doubles gold with Sin Li Jane -- their total of 2,651 pinfalls was 106 more than Indonesian silver medallists Sharon Santoso and Tannya Roumimper -- the former world champion told The New Paper with a wide smile: "Now, this one I won on merit.

"I thought I finished third, and I found out I was fourth for the singles only when someone told me.

"But nobody can say I didn't earn this gold medal."

Capitalising on the switch from Tuesday's long-oil to medium-oil lanes, victory was especially sweet for the Malaysians as they stole the show at the Orchid Country Club, home of their fierce Causeway rivals.

Another Malaysian pair, Syaidatul Afifah and Shalin Zulkifli, took the bronze with 2,524 pinfalls to squeeze Singapore off the podium.

Hampered by slow starts, Jazreel Tan and Bernice Lim were fourth (2,473), women's singles champion Daphne Tan and New Hui Fen were seventh (2,410) and Cherie Tan and Shayna Ng finished eighth (2,370).

Declaring that their engines are now warmed up, Cheah is looking to plunder more gold medals from under Singapore's noses.

"There are many more events for us (trios, team and Masters) to sapu (Malay for sweep). We have to sapu whatever we can," she said.

It was the 29-year-old's first SEA Games win since Korat 2007, and she added: "It's been a long time coming after my freak accident in Indonesia in 2011.

"I fell off the bus two days before the competition started and suffered a hairline fracture on my right foot and could not bowl.

"They didn't have bowling in Myanmar two years ago, so I have had to wait almost eight years; it feels great to win again now."

Despite being a highly accomplished bowler with a world junior title and multiple Asian Championships crowns under her belt, it was Sin's first SEA Games gold medal.

The 23-year-old said: "Our coach told us halfway through the fifth frame that we were leading by 70 to 80 pinfalls, and told us to relax.

"We knew that we would be hard to catch, and we loosened up and continued playing well.

"We have faith in each other's abilities and we are so happy to win."

But Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua remained defiant and was confident her golden girls will come good.

She said: "We are not going to roll over and play dead.

"Like the rest of our supporters here, we are disappointed not to win the women's doubles.

"We expected to blaze the lanes again today, but instead we struggled and it was a bad day at the office for us.

"In my opinion, it was an equipment issue, where we used the wrong choice of ball.

"From yesterday's long oil to today's medium oil patterns, the balls played differently from training and the seven and 10 pins didn't drop.

"Our coaches didn't go for lunch because they knew there was a problem we had to nip in the bud.

"It is a lesson learnt for us. We can't let this weigh us down.

"We will definitely make amends and come back stronger, that's a promise."

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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