PETALING JAYA: It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
And Malaysia certainly left it late before delivering a bronze in the men’s trios at the Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships in Bangkok.
Malaysia’s Rafiq Ismail, Timmy Tan and Muhd Nur Aiman Khairuddin were in fourth position heading into the sixth and final game – and in need of 670 pinfalls to take bronze.
And the trio did just that – roaring back with a huge 700 pinfalls to clinch the bronze in emphatic fashion with a six-game combined total of 3,922 pinfalls at the Blu-O Rhythm & Bowl Ratchayothin.
Malaysia, who were bowling in the second squad and playing catch-up, found themselves in trouble early on as poor scores by Rafiq (193) and Timmy (183) in the opening game four on the long oil pattern threatened to derail the country’s medal hopes.
Thankfully, the trio showed steely determination in the final game. With Timmy enjoying an improved 247 game – his highest score at the championships – and Rafiq and Aiman also bowling well with 227 and 226 pinfalls respectively, Malaysia nicked third spot ahead of Saudi Arabia by 30 pins.
South Korea clinched the gold with 4,254, ahead of second-placed China (3,938).
“I knew we needed 670 to win bronze. So I told myself that it’s either I grab this opportunity or I’ll have nothing,” said a relieved Timmy.
“We knew we had to just go all out and hope for the pins to carry us into the last game ... and it worked out.”
Rafiq chimed in: “I’m happy and relieved that we finally nicked a medal with this bronze. We couldn’t have done it without coach Holloway (Cheah) and Ben’s (Heng) guidance.
“For me, this (trios) is a bonus. Coming into the championships, we had set our sights on winning the team event. So, our task is still not done yet.”
Malaysia’s other trios – Johnathan Chan, Jonathan Ding Sagan and Ahmad Muaz Fishol – ended up eighth after finishing with a 3,809 total.
Johnathan produced a perfect 300 score in game five – the third at this championships.
The 24-year-old now occupies ninth place in the all-events, along with Rafiq (first) and Aiman (sixth). The top 16 bowlers will advance into the Masters finals on Sunday.
In women’s competition, Malaysia’s Sin Li Jane, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi and Hee Kar Yen battled back from sixth to go third after the first of three games on the long oil pattern.
But they couldn’t hold on to the spot and ended up fifth with a 3,653 total.
The second trios of Natasha Roslan, Dayang Khairuniza Dhiyana Abang Jamalidon and Radin Nur Najwa Arifah Radin Dzulfakar finished seventh with a 3,608 total.
All is not over, though, as Li Jane still leads the all-events standings with a 4,074 total after 18 games.
She also looks set to be a shoo-in for the Masters finals, together with Natasha (sixth), Syaidatul (eighth) and Kar Yen (13th).
Dayang, who is just 20 pins shy of 16th spot will also be looking to creep into contention.
For now, the Malaysians will focus on the first block of the men’s and women’s team events.