Siti Safiyah, fondly known as Sofy to her teammates, did better than her seniors Shalin Zulkifli, Esther Cheah and Sin Li Jane to enter the women’s top-three stepladder finals yesterday in the Masters event for the first time in the SEA Games but lost out on the gold in a battle that went down the wire.
Siti Safiyah came out of nowhere in the second block of the women’s Masters event, overcoming a 55-pin deficit with one game remaining to qualify for the stepladder finals.
She defeated Shayna Ng of Singapore 234-201 in the second match to set up a two-game title clash against top seed New Hui Fen of Singapore.
It was Siti Safiyah who won the nail-biting first game through a tie-breaker after it ended 190-190. It drew level again at 40-40 before the Malaysian prevailed with 29-27 to force Hui Fen into the decider.
But Siti Safiyah ran out of luck when she failed to convert a spare in the fourth frame and suffered a split in the seventh and eventually lost 194-213.
2017 KL Games Masters champion Shalin, who finished third in the first block on Saturday, slipped to fifth place, followed by Li Jane (6th) and Esther (9th).
While Siti Safiyah is gutted to have missed out on the gold by a whisker, she was not disheartened considering how she fought back from a lowly 11th spot at the start of the day.
“After fighting so hard to get into the stepladder finals, obviously I wanted to win the gold so much. But it just wasn’t my day,” lamented Siti Safiyah.
“But I don’t think I can complain with a silver either. This is the first time I’ve made it to the stepladder finals of an official Games. I have never done it in any of my previous SEA Games as well as the Asian Games outings.”
It was her third silver medal in the Games, having also finished runner-up in the mixed doubles and women’s team events.
Malaysia also did not make the men’s top-three stepladder finals when Ahmad Muaz Fishol, Tun Ameerul Hakim Tun Hasnul Azam, Timmy Tan and Rafiq Ismail.
With the sole silver yesterday, Malaysia ended their campaign as the third best team in the Philippines Games with a medal haul of two golds, three silvers and two bronzes.
Indonesia, powered by an impressive men’s team led by veteran Ryan Lalisang, topped the medal tally with four golds, two silvers and one bronze (4-2-1) followed by Singapore in second spot on 3-1-4.
Malaysia have been dominant since they first ruled at the Korat Games with a 4-3-6 haul; followed by 5-3-6 in Jakarta (2011); 5-1-4 in Singapore (2015); and 7-4-3 in Kuala Lumpur. Bowling was not contested in Vietnam in 2003, Laos 2009 and Myanmar 2013.
Team manager Maradona Chok still put on a smile although Malaysia’s 12-year reign as the king of South-East Asian bowling ended and they did not meet their four-gold medal target.
“This is one of the closest competitions ever in SEA Games,” said Maradona, also the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) secretary-general. Our men and women held their nerves and fought to the very end, and I’m proud of each one of them.”
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