Shayna Ng: The hardest thing for me

Shayna Ng: The hardest thing for me

SINGAPORE - A bald woman often has a bare, stripped-back beauty that beckons the eye. And so in early August, it is hard to look away from bowler Shayna Ng, whose every lock and thatch of hair has been tonsured in aid of a cancer charity.

She doesn't mind if you look, she doesn't mind because she knows what it's like to be looked at differently. When she first won a major event, first beat the world in a bowling alley, first found reward for effort, she first learnt how people see you differently. It's a champion thing.

If champions have a look about them - in the movies it's that cold, impenetrable death mask - then champions also elicit a look from us. From fans, from competitors, from media. A look that travels from awe to intrigue, from envy to fascination. As if these champions are built of a finer material than us, as if they've discovered mental solutions to physical problems no one has considered before.

The winner becomes adored, elevated, venerated and then, immediately, asked to win again. As if it is the easiest thing now. When in fact, for Ng, it is the hardest thing.

When Ng won the Qubica World Cup - one of bowling's major events - in December 2012, everything increased proportionately to the new levels of her game.

Confidence, yes. But also expectation.

And the look. "People saw me differently. Competitors look for you, they track your success and your form. You feel they are watching you. Earlier no one is threatened by you and now they are."

It's a shift in mood and tone and it can be unsettling. It's not pressure lifted but pressure changed.

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