Jazreel Tan hopes to bowl over opposition

National bowler Jazreel Tan.

You won the National Championships as a 14-year-old and now, 11 years on, you are competing at a SEA Games in Singapore and have another chance to win at home. Are you relishing the prospect of winning in front of a home crowd?

JAZREEL: Yeah, of course! We bowl on home ground every year at the Singapore Open, but it's not labelled "The Games".

I have never bowled in a major competition on home ground before, so it's going to be different, yet exciting. It would mean a lot as my friends and family, who are my pillars of support in my bowling career, can finally watch me bowl at a major.

It would be great to be able to win something for them and Singapore.

How do you feel about being the poster girl of Singapore bowling?

I wouldn't call myself a poster girl, but it's a privilege that I appreciate very much.

I'm very honoured to be given the chance to be able to promote the sport of bowling and also sports in general, and to inspire future bowlers or athletes.

You were also a pretty decent swimmer, winning about 80 medals in school and club competitions. What's the story there?

I specialised in backstroke and freestyle. I also play ultimate frisbee and, occasionally, I play a little football although I am horrible at it.

I became a bowler when my brother quit swimming and went into bowling. I would always watch him bowl after my swims. Soon, I got interested in the sport and picked it up after I quit swimming.

Any superstitions or pre-match rituals before your competitions?

I draw a smiley face on my hand during tournaments, as it helps to remind myself to stay calm and positive, and to keep smiling.

With four medals, you were the most decorated Team Singapore athlete at the 2014 Asian Games. You could also be the most decorated at this SEA Games with all that jewellery you wear. Tell us more about those?

People who know me would know that I wear a lot of accessories. I love bracelets and can wear five or six on one hand.

But some of my friends told me I have gone overboard, so I have already cut down by a lot. Other than bracelets, I have multiple necklaces, rings, earrings and anklets on me.

I broke one anklet that I've worn for over five years, so I was a bit sad. Other than my love for them, I also wear them because there is a story behind most of them.

What has been a typical day like for you in the build-up to this SEA Games?

My body clock is quite bad, so I don't actually get much sleep. Whatever time I sleep, I'll be awake by 7am to get ready for training.

We usually reach the alley by 9am for training from 10am to 1pm. On some days, we train double sessions on the lanes. On other days, we train one session and then take a short lunch break, before a strength-and-conditioning session at the Singapore Sports Institute for about two hours.

Usually, our day ends by 6pm, but sometimes later.

What do you do to unwind?

Stay at home, chill and basically do nothing.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

Many people have given me advice. To sum it all up, it is to stay in the present, keep an open mind, never stop learning and never give up.

What is your best memory of bowling?

It has to be winning the team gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. We had been getting really close to world champions South Korea on many occasions, but we had mostly fallen short.

But to be able to beat them on their own home ground was just an amazing moment that words cannot describe.

What is the biggest lesson you learnt from bowling?

Respect and humility.

Which was the best destination bowling has taken you, and what was so great about the place?

If I have to choose one, I've got to be biased towards the United States. I spent four years studying there and I just love going back there. No specific reason though.

Are you single or attached? What do you look for in a man?

I'm single. It sounds cliched, but I want someone who treats me well, is trustworthy and is able to tolerate me.

This article was first published on May 28, 2015.
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