S'pore women bowlers on a roll Their calibre has long been acknowledged by the international bowling community, but now the national women's bowling team's depth in quality is reflected in the world rankings too.
Four Singaporeans have cracked the top 10 of the latest World Bowling Tour (WBT) rankings, the most since the professional circuit of the sport's world governing body was inaugurated in 2011.
Cherie Tan is No. 4 - behind three Americans Danielle McEwan, Liz Johnson and Kelly Kulick.
Shayna Ng, the All Events champion at last year's Women's World Bowling Championships, is No. 6.
Jazreel Tan is two spots further behind while Joey Yeo comes in at No. 10.
This puts Singapore on a par with traditional bowling powerhouses the United States, who also have four keglers within the top 10. Three more Singaporeans - New Hui Fen, Bernice Lim and Daphne Tan - are ranked within the top 20.
With the ranking based on performances at WBT events over the last two years, this is a result of national keglers competing more often - and doing well - on the circuit.
Joey, 18, for instance, was crowned women's champion at the Bowling World Open last July, winning what was the richest tournament on the Tour last season.
It should be noted, however, that giants such as South Korea do not compete as much on the circuit.
SingaporeBowling technical director Mervyn Foo said that while the federation has always focused its competitive plans on major tournaments, the introduction of the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarship in 2013 has given the bowlers the ability to compete in even more high-level competitions.
The scheme is targeted at elite athletes earmarked for success at the regional, continental and world levels. They receive financial backing of up to $8,000 a month, as well as support in areas such as sports science, training and equipment.
All seven keglers currently among the top 20 in the WBT rankings are Spex scholars.
Added Foo: "There's never been a team like this in the history of Singapore bowling.
"SingaporeBowling has always focused on the team, from the council up to the players, coaches and staff. The rankings just show the commitment the association puts into the investment of our athletes, with the tremendous support from Sport Singapore and the Singapore Sports Institute."
For bowlers like Ng, it has meant far more overseas exposure - the team just returned from competing in Munich and a training stint in the US, and will be back on the road for a month-long trip at the end of the month.
She said: "The rankings are a reflection of how good the team are on the whole. It's not just one or two of us, but a handful.
"It shows consistency... and we are now seen as a threat to strong teams like the Americans and the Koreans."
SingaporeBowling president Jessie Phua, however, insisted that numbers are not what the association emphasises.
She said: "We're happy but not obsessed with this ranking. Ultimately, it's about staying focused on the process, and getting the team to be stronger and better.
"While we're supportive of our top bowlers, our focus this year is to build up the second- and third-tier teams. They must be given a chance too.
This article was first published on April 4, 2016.
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