Malaysia will be banking on Siti Zalina Ahmad once again to deliver gold in the lawn bowls at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. - Filepic
GLASGOW: For a team who failed to win a single gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi four years ago, it surely sounds like a lot of hot air when they predicted a possible two-gold haul in Glasgow this time.
But head coach Zuraidi Puteh seems to know what he’s talking about.
“There is an air of confidence in the lawn bowls team this time … the national players are bent on making amends for the gold-less show in New Delhi,” Zuraidi said after putting the players through their paces at the Clarkston Bowling Club in Glasgow on Sunday.
Malaysia certainly has the pedigree in lawn bowls – having won back-to-back golds in the 2002 Manchester Games (1-0-1) and 2006 Melbourne Games (2-0-0).
In New Delhi, the team could only bag a silver and a bronze.
So what makes Zuraidi confident that the team could claim a “double”?
“We have a dream team in the women’s pairs, with two of the country’s best players – Siti Zalina Ahmad and Norhashimah Ismail – combining for the first time at the Games,” said Zuraidi.
Siti will also be gunning for her third straight women’s singles gold at the Games.
“Norhashimah and I are on a mission to redeem ourselves in Glasgow. In New Delhi four years ago, I lost in the singles semi-finals while Norhashimah lost in the women’s pairs final. We want to make amends and we have a chance to do just that this time – as a team,” said Siti.
Coach Zuraidi acknowledged that there is little to separate Norhashimah and Siti, who first won a bronze in the fours event when Malaysia made their debut at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games.
“Both are equally good … in terms of skills and techniques. Both are also vastly experienced … so we expect them to deliver the goods in Glasgow,” said the coach.
The Malaysian camp also have high hopes on the men’s pairs combination of Fairul Izwan Abdul Muin and Mohd Hizlee Abdul Raiz.
Hizlee, who is down to play in the singles as well, emerged triumphant at the 2012 World Champion of Champions in Cyprus.
The lawn bowlers were the first Malaysians to arrive in Glasgow, having set up camp here since July 7 in a bid to get used to the weather and the green conditions at the Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre.
Australia will start as heavy favourites based on the fact that they won six out of the eight titles at the World Bowls in Adelaide in 2012. Malaysia only won a silver in the women’s fours event.