KUALA LUMPUR: It was a significant day for Malaysian bowling when many youngsters made the elite team.
Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) president Datuk Dr P.S. Nathan on Wednesday confirmed the eight men and eight women for the elite team this year.
It saw some young ones beating old-timers like Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi, Sharon Koh, Nur Aiman Khairuddin and Isaac Russel Paul to a spot in the elite team.
Zandra, Sharon, Aiman and Isaac will now be relegated to the back-up squad.
The men’s team now consists of Mohd Syafiq Ridhwan Abdul Malek, Adrian Ang, Alex Liew, Timmy Tan, Syimir Abdul Razak, Jonathan Ding Sagan, Zulmazran Zulkifli and Mohd Rafiq Ismail, all of whom finished in the top eight in a recent selection trial.
Out of the eight, Rafiq is only 17; Timmy and Jonathan are 19; and reigning Malaysian Open champion Syimir is 22.
In the women’s team are Sin Li Jane, Esther Cheah, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi, Shalin Zulkifli, Natasha Roslan, Radin Nur Najwa Arifah Radin Dzulfakar, Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman.
The young ones are Natasha, 16; Radin, 18; and Syaidatul, 21.
It was pleasant news for former World Ranking champion Siti Safiyah, who managed to fight her way up from the back-up squad.
Dr Nathan was pleased with the strong showing by several young bowlers.
“We have several new bowlers aged between 16 and 19. This shows that Malaysian bowling has talents,” he said.
“This year, our selection trials were more open and we did not restrict it to just the elite bowlers. We invited those who had podium finishes last year and the back-up bowlers.
“A total of 24 men and 24 women bowlers took part. Some of the seniors, who have won titles, did not make it and it shows that nobody can be complacent.”
Nathan said they would keep the selection of the squad for this year’s Asian Games open.
“All the bowlers in the elite and back-up squads will go through a series of selection trials and we will monitor their performances in five international tournaments.
“Then, the best six men and six women will be selected for the Asiad. This will ensure that everyone will be on their toes,” he said.
Bowling has been a major contributor of gold medals in the Asian Games. At the last Asiad in Guangzhou in 2010, bowling returned with two gold medals through the men’s doubles and all-events.