WITH just a bronze medal for Malaysia after the first three days of action in the Asian Games, all eyes will now be on the women’s trios to strike it right in the bowling competition starting today at the Jakabaring Bowling Centre in Palembang today.
Malaysia will be counting on Shalin Zulkifli, Sin Li Jane, Esther Cheah, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman and Natasha Roslan to lift the gloom by living up to their reputation as the reigning world champions.
So far, Malaysia have only one bronze to show through Sara Yap Khim Wen in taekwondo.
Head coach Holloway Cheah has lined up Shalin, Li Jane and Natasha as the first combination while Esther, Siti and Syaidatul make up the second group.
Holloway said he did not retain the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games-winning trios of Shalin, Li Jane and Esther as one combination because he wanted to ensure that Malaysia would have two equally strong teams to contend for gold.
“I’ve mixed it up based on the bowlers’ performance during the official practice (yesterday),” said Holloway, who is spearheading the team’s assault for the fifth straight Asian Games.
“We have two equally strong teams now. Instead of putting all (the stronger ones) into one, it’s wiser that we form two teams who stand a chance to fight for gold.”
Li Jane is looking forward to teaming up with Shalin and Natasha as she bids for her maiden Asiad gold.
“I always get pumped up when I bowl alongside Shalin.
“She’s passionate and goes all out and as her partner, I just don’t want to let her down,” said Li Jane.
“We’ve won a couple of medals together and we hope our partnership will continue to bring success.
“We’ve debutant Natasha, who is out to impress. She may be the youngest member in the team, but she has enough big tournament experience.”
Team manager Maradona Chok said the bowlers were relaxed and would deliver.
“They’re here with a mission. They’re not under any pressure but are quite relaxed and raring to go,” said Maradona.
Malaysia last won a women’s trios gold through Shalin, Lydia Kwah and Shirley Chow at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.
The men’s trios – Rafiq Ismail, Timmy Tan, Ahmad Muaz Fishol and Adrian Ang, Alex Liew Syafiq Ridhwan Abdul Malek – will bowl tomorrow.