Azidi having the last laugh


PETALING JAYA: If it hadn’t been so painful, it might even have been funny. A bowling ball fell off the rack onto national bowler Azidi Ameran’s toe, leaving him hobbling in pain during the World Tenpin Team Cup in Odense, Denmark last week. 

But he persevered. And he did have the last laugh when Malaysia won both the gold medals – the men’s and women’s titles – in a historic achievement. 

Now, the 31-year-old Azidi is looking more determined to bring his bowling career to a higher level. 

“On the opening day of the tournament, I was standing at the ball return machine. There were already too many balls on the machine during our 30 minutes of practice and I was thinking to myself that if one more ball came out, it was going to fall on my feet. And that was exactly what happened,” Azidi recalled. 

“It hit my toe but I gritted my teeth and still went on to bowl my last frame during the practice. But the pain became unbearable after that and I informed coach (Mats Karlsson) about it. I still went on to bowl the first five matches but after that, I just could not go on. 

“I sought treatment from Dr P.S. Nathan (who is also the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress president). He gave me painkillers and then I bowled with the help of painkillers throughout the competition.” 

Azidi was the second player in the team of Daniel Lim, Zulmazran Zulkilfi, Alex Liew and Ben Heng, who went on to roll down eight consecutive strikes to dethrone Sweden to take the men’s title for the first time. 

Their victory came just after the women’s team of Shalin Zulkilfi, Lai Kin Ngoh, Sarah Yap, Wendy Chai and Choy Poh Lai lifted the title for the first time, after finishing third on two occasions in 1996 in Canada and 1998 in Holland. 

Jonathan Lim and Sharon Chai were the reserves during the step-ladder finals. 

The lanky Azidi, the boyfriend of his more illustrious partner Shalin, said the world meet would be a new launch pad for his bowling career. 

“I was not in a good frame of mind before the world meet. When Mats met every bowler to know what we wanted to achieve this year, I told him my career was in a rut and I had no targets to achieve.  

“I was changing my bowling style so often I did not know what was the best way to bowl,” said Azidi. 

“But Mats helped me out of this. He came up with fresh ideas and I bowled well at the world meet.  

“Except for the unfortunate toe incident, I did well. And it was certainly great to have won the World Team Cup. I am starting all over again and hopefully, I will be able to improve my game with each tournament,” he said. 

March will be a hectic month for Azidi. He will leave for the Philippines on March 5 to compete in the Storm Euro Mad tournament. He will then compete in the Singapore Classic and will return home for the prestigious Malaysian Open from March 17-29 and the opening leg of the Asian Bowling Tour, which will be held a day after the Malaysian Open. 

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