PETALING JAYA: It was third time lucky for Daniel Lim and Shalin Zulkifli as they emerged as the national bowling champions at the Pyramid Mega Lanes in Subang yesterday.
After two failed attempts in 1997 and 1998, Daniel finally landed the men's Open Masters title while reigning Asian champion Shalin secured her third women's Open Masters title in the 26th National Championships.
Daniel trailed Ben Heng in second place by 23 pins with a total of 1,770 after the first block of eight games on Saturday.
But he surged to the fore from the start of second block yesterday, scoring a 225 against Ben's 165. Daniel continued to sizzle with lines of 193, 185, 213, 242, 279, 211 and 193 to finish with a 3,511 total.
Ben Heng settled for second place, 102 pins behind while Sukma Masters gold medallist Aaron Kong of Penang finished third with a 3,386.
For Daniel, it brought a big cheer for the coming Chinese New Year. The title was worth RM7,000.
“It is a nice way to celebrate the Chinese New Year. But more than that, I was really determined to win this time,” he said.
“I managed to come close to winning the national title twice before. In 1997, I lost to Stanley Tai, who even shot a perfect game. A year later, I lost to Kenny.
“The competition this time was quite open but I was confident that I would do well after winning three gold medals in the inter-state meet early this week.”
Daniel, who hails from Klang, added that he also wanted to win this time to make up for the disappointment of failing to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Asian Tour Grand Slam Finals in Singapore last week.
“I am happy to have finally achieved my target,” said the 27-year-old Daniel, who won the Korean leg of the Asian Tour last year.
Zulmazran Zulkifli failed in the defence of the title, finishing sixth with a total of 3,365.
For Shalin, yesterday was also a significant day as she successfully defended her title. Shalin, who took a break after the Grand Slam Finals and did not compete in the inter-state meet, continued to blaze the lanes in the second block of eight games.
She finished with a total of 3,677 – 247 pins more than Singapore Open champion Wendy Chai. Choy Poh Lai, who won three gold medals for Johor in the inter-state meet, continued with her fine form to finish third on 3,335.
The 25-year-old Shalin thus became only the third bowler to win successive national titles after 1991 World Championships silver medallist Lisa Kwan, who won in 1994 and 1995, and Y.H. Foong, who was the men's champion in 1984 and 1983.
The Shalin is also in the record books as the youngest national champion, winning the title for the first time in 1992 at 14.
Shalin said that she was happy to have kept her form going after the Grand Slam Finals.
“It has been a long season and I am happy to have continued the winning streak.
“It feels good to be able to win the national title again,” said Shalin, who also won three Open Masters titles last year.