PETALING JAYA: The retirement of Shalin Zulkifli and Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi last year has left the national women’s bowling team with a big void to fill in their main squad.
Both Shalin and Syaidatul were part of the all-conquering “Super Six”, alongside Esther Cheah, Sin Li Jane, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman and Natasha Roslan that captured the team title at the 2017 World Championships in Las Vegas, as well as the 2015 Singapore and 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
However, the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) are in no hurry to fill up the vacant spots as the tournament schedule in the region is still currently suspended as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The team have not gone out for any competition since the Philippines SEA Games in December 2019.
But with the Vietnam SEA Games and Asian Championships coming up later this year and next January respectively, the 22-year-old Gillian Lim knows the opportunity is there for the taking and it will be up to her to seize it.
Should Gillian get picked for either of the major meets and excel in it, chances are she will find herself becoming a first-team regular in years to come.
The others eyeing to break into the top six are Nur Syazwani Sahar, Nerosha Keligit, Nora Lyana Nastasia Norkamal, Faten Najihah Ahmad Faik and Puteri Nurul Dini Faudzi.
Nerosha and Syazwani are considered to be frontrunners as they had previously made the squad to the World Championships and Asian Championships respectively in 2019.
Gillian admitted that it is her “ultimate dream” to follow in the footsteps of her idol Shalin by becoming one of the best women’s bowlers in the country.
“Kak Shalin is my idol and I look up to her a lot. It was a great honour to be her teammate prior to her retirement, ” said Gillian.
“Before Kak Shalin left, she gave me lots of encouragement and told me to never give up and keep fighting. With sheer perseverance, I would get to where I want to be, ” she said.
“So, my aim for now is to break into the main team no matter how long it takes. Ultimately, I want to represent Malaysia regularly in major competitions such as the World Championships, Asian Games, SEA Games and bring glory to the country just like Kak Shalin.”
Despite the lack of competition, Gillian is convinced that her game is trending in the right direction based on training performance.
But whether or not she’s good enough to get selected later this year, she would leave it to the coaches to determine.
“My position in the team depends on the coaches, they know best. All I can do is to prove to them my dedication and attitude in training, ” said Gillian.
“We have not had any international competition, so it’s hard to say (about her current performance level) but I’m feeling good during training.”