PETALING JAYA: From blazing the lanes to munching all the sweet and savoury delicacies for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Rafiq Ismail wants to enjoy his much-needed break.
The 22-year-old Malaysian bowler said he always looks forward to the festivities because he gets to spend much quality time with his family and also enjoy the traditional delicacies that his mother Zaiton Abdul Ghani cooks.
The southpaw has a week off from training and will be savouring every moment with his family.
“I can’t wait to spend time with my parents and siblings. Also, you get to enjoy time with your nieces and nephews.
“I love family gatherings because I don’t get to spend much time with them due to my bowling commitments. We forgive each other and look forward to better things.
“Not to forget, the various Raya delicacies like ketupat, lemang and rendang – you can’t ignore them. I love the rendang ketupat kuah lodeh made by my parents. It’s unique and I always look forward to it.
“I’ll also be visiting relatives and friends in Keramat and Kampung Baru,” said Rafiq, who’s proud to be a Kuala Lumpur boy.
Rafiq will look for Raya inspiration to improve his fortunes in 2019 as he has yet to win any tournaments this year.
The 2018 Best Sportsman of the Year said he needs to find a way to regain his consistency before the SEA Games in Manila, which starts on Nov 30.
“My next tournament is the Singapore Open at the end of June. Lately, my form has dipped a little but I’m taking it positively.
“Now, I’m aware of my mistakes and will look to raise my game for the upcoming tournaments. Training is going well but I always tell myself to stay disciplined and focused.
“The most important thing is to believe. I believe I can win at least one title this year. Podium finishes will also be good.”
Earlier this year, Rafiq took part in seven tournaments of the Professional Bowlers’ Association (PBA) Tour but he wasn’t in his element. Out of the seven championships, he only returned with one top-eight finish.
He will have another shot at glory as he will take part in four tournaments – the PBA Bowlerstore.com Classic in Ohio (Aug 21-23) and the three-event PBA Summer Swing series, which comprises PBA Wolf Open, PBA Bear Open and PBA Illinois Open in Illinois (Aug 24-31).
Through these meets and also monthly roll-offs, Rafiq hopes to be one of the four men bowlers who will take part in the SEA Games in Manila.