Esther Cheah (left) celebrating the 2006 Asian Games bowling team gold with her team-mates. She will be hoping to make this year's team for the Incheon Asian Games in September. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: Esther Cheah may get a chance to end Malaysia’s eight-year gold drought in the women’s bowling event at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, this year.
Malaysia came up short at the Guangzhou edition in 2010, with Esther, Shalin Zulkifli, Sharon Koh, Sin Li Jane, Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi and Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani managing a solitary bronze in the team event.
The women keglers last won gold (two) at the 2006 Doha Games – women’s singles (Esther) and team (Esther, Choy Poh Lai, Sharon, Shalin, Wendy Chai and Zandra).
“We (the women’s team) haven’t won the gold for a while. The guys brought back two golds (Alex Liew in all-events and Alex and Adrian Ang in men’s doubles), so it’ll be nice to win again this year,” said Esther who competed in Maybank’s Smash and Donate badminton fund-raising event at Stadium Juara on Saturday.
Esther, who is looking to compete in her third Asian Games (Sept 19-Oct 4), said that her place in the Asiad squad is not guaranteed even though she finished in the top eight bracket in last week’s roll-off to pick the bowlers for the elite squad.
The others in the top eight were Shalin, Li Jane, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi, Natasha Roslan, Radin Nur Najwa Arifah Radin Dzulfakar, Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman.
The elite team will be announced on Wednesday.
“I hope to make the Asian Games squad because I think the selection might get a little complicated this year. For the first time, they had a roll-off to select bowlers for the elite team, so I’m guessing they might just do another roll-off to determine the Asiad team,” said Esther.
“Going through the roll-off is very demanding. I takes a toll on you. I’ve got to make sure I remain in good condition this year.
“Regardless of the outcome on Wednesday, I hope we put together a stronger women’s team for the Asiad this year and challenge for medals.”
Meanwhile, the Smash and Donate event was held in conjunction with the Maybank Malaysian Open Super Series Premier to be held from from Jan 14-19 at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The event brought together a number of top executives from the private sector, national athletes Pandelela Rinong (diving), Low Wee Wern (squash), Sazali Samad (body building) as well as former shuttlers Wong Choon Hann, Yap Kim Hock, Lee Wan Wah and Kwan Yoke Meng. Local celebrities like Vanidah Imran, Nabila Huda, Nasha Aziz, Elaine Daly and Sazzy Falak also featured in the friendly game in support of Hospital Selayang’s Liver Transplant Centre.