PETALING JAYA: The agonising wait for the national bowlers to get back into international competition is over. All of them except three-time Asian women's number one Shalin Zulkfili will take part in the Philippines Open.
With concerns lessening over SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) have finally given the green light to the bowlers to resume competitions overseas.
National coach Holloway Cheah said yesterday that the team would leave for Manila on Thursday.
The Masters' qualifying rounds of the tournament began last Friday and will end on June 13. The Philippines will also host the third leg of the Asian Tour on June 14-15.
The bowlers have been kept in cold storage from overseas tournaments since the Malaysian Open in March. They did not get to compete in the Thailand Open and the second leg of the Tour last month.
“I am glad that they will get international competitions again. They need to take part in tournaments as part of their preparation for the World Championships (Sept 9-20),” said Holloway.
“We are holding a league as a substitute tournament for them but it is difficult to get them in very competitive mood.”
The 10-day league among the men and women will end on Wednesday. Currently, Ben Heng leads the 11-player field. Jonathan Lim and Shalin have been excused from taking part in the league.
The others in the league are Alex Liew, Azidi Ameran, Daniel Lim, Zulmazran Zulkifli, Mohd Nadri Mohd Noor, Lai Kin Ngoh, Sarah Yap, Wendy Chai, Choy Poh Lai and Sharon Chai.
Holloway said that Jonathan had reported for training and would be in the team for Manila.
But he is unsure over Shalin's fate. Shalin had been excused from training since news surfaced last Thursday that she had been declared a bankrupt by the Kuala Lumpur High Court for a RM1.75million loan, which she stood as guarantor for about five years ago for a company, Locus Aim Sdn Bhd.
Shalin is not able to travel overseas because her passport will be confiscated by the Immigration Department.
“She is trying to sort out the matter and the MTBC will help her out. For now, we are not sure whether she can make it for the Philippines Open,” said Holloway.
Shalin is the Philippines Open Masters' defending champion.
“I hope that something could be worked out for her. She is a great bowler and we hope that she can continue bowling for the country.”
Shalin's participation in the World Ranking Masters, scheduled for July 19-24 in Florida is also in doubt.