AALBORG (Denmark): Young Malaysian debutant Esther Cheah produced the biggest upset in the history of the World Championships when she bagged the singles gold medal at Lovvang Bowling Centre yesterday.
Esther, the daughter of former national coach Holloway Cheah, came good on the penultimate day of competition to bag Malaysia's first individual world title in bowling with a six game total of 1296.
Until the singles event started on Thursday, Malaysia had finished empty handed. The national bowlers were the defending champions for the team event but they were nowhere near the frontrunners in the competition in which they had won in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
However, Esther came from nowhere in the final squad to post lines of 183, 264, 196, 253, 201 and 199 to secure her place in history as the first Malaysian individual world champion.
The 19-year-old Esther shot to third spot in her squad after the first three games. She posted 196 in the fourth game and another high game of 253 saw her inching closer to her goal of becoming the first Malaysian individual world champion.
Esther then needed just 397 to seal her place in history and she achieved it by bowling 201 and 199 to confirm her place on the top of the podium.
“I was confident I had a shot at winning a medal after bowling 264. But never did I expect this. The whole team have been feeling down after we finished 17th in the team event. Tonight is really something special for myself and the whole team,” said Esther.
Zhang Yuhong of China took silver with 1293 while Anneliza du Pisani clinched bronze for South Africa with 1285.
Lai Kin Ngoh also earned cheers for Malaysia when she her singles effort of 1284 was good enough to bag a bronze in the All-Events, thus earning her a place in the top 16-Masters Finals starting today.
Kin Ngoh had a combined total of 5013 and joining her in the Masters Finals is Shalin, who finished seventh with 4977.
Shalin, who was bowling with Esther in the final squad, had a six-game total of 1236 in the singles.
For the record, Malaysia have yet to win an individual gold medal in the history of the world meet.
The women's team triumphed in the 2003 world meet and it was only the second time after Malaysia won the men's trios through J.B. Koo, Allan Hooi and Edward Lim in Manila in 1979.
Malaysia also won medals in the 1995 and 1999 world meets in Reno and Abu Dhabi respectively. In Reno, Malaysia won the trios silver medal through Shalin, Shirley Chow and Lydia Kwah.
Shalin was the top performer in Abu Dhabi when she bagged three silvers singles, All-Events and doubles (with Sarah Yap).
1. Esther Cheah (Mas) 1296, 2. Zhang Yhong (Chn) 1293, 3. Annelize du Pisani (Rsa) 1285.
Other Malaysians: 4. Lai Kin Ngoh 1284, 9. Wendy Chai 1272, 53. Sarah Yap 1164, 120. Choy Poh Lai 1091.
1. Wang Yu-ling (Tpe) 5132, 2. Lynda Barnes (Usa) 5060, 3. Lai Kin Ngoh 5013.
Other Malaysians: 7. Shalin Zulkifli 4977, 38. Wendy Chai 4770, 49. Esther Cheah 4729, 64. Sarah Yap 4651, 95. Choy Poh Lai 4549.