PETALING JAYA: Youngsters led by Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani gave impressive performances in the recent Singapore Open to indicate that Malaysian bowling is reaping the benefits from solid development programmes.
The 19-year-old Zatil, who has been in the back-up squad for the last four years, made a breakthrough by winning her first senior international title.
She defeated the more fancied Sharon Koh in the stepladder final to take the women's Masters crown and the success has enhanced her chances to feature in the SEA Games in Thailand in December.
After seeing Esther Cheah, Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi, Sharon and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman coming through the ranks, national chief coach Holloway was pleased to see Zatil coming to the fore.
“It is not easy to win an Open title. Many have tried but few succeed. Zatil has worked very hard and I am happy that she has come out of the shadows of Sharon. The challenge for her now is to consistently do well on the international stage,” he said.
The Singapore Open was also a good outing for Sarawak, who showed that they were back in the business in producing young talent for the country with 13-year-old Chong Jun Foo emerging as the Under-16 champion.
And Perak's Mohd Fazrin Khairul Faizi made it a 1-2 finish for Malaysia.
In the youth division, Malaysia also won medal through back-up bowlers Christyn Chew and Fazin Syazliana, who came in second and third respectively in the Masters event.
Holloway said that the performances of youngsters over the last few years showed that Malaysia had depth in talent in reserve.
“There has been emphasis on development programmes for the last 10 years,” said Holloway.
“And our young bowlers have been challenging for honours for the last three years. And every year, we have several of them making the breakthrough. We do not have to worry about supplying talent for the country.
“Sarawak, especially, are certainly making a comeback as one of the active states. They also have two girls (Jacqueline Sijore and Dayang Khairuniza) who are doing well.
“We are certainly heading in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, the national bowlers will compete in the Taiwan Open next week.
It will be the last tournament before Holloway names the six-man and six-woman teams for the SEA Games.