Veteran Siti and newbie Afiqah lead in three-gold sweep

  • Other Sports
  • Tuesday, 03 Dec 2019

You did it girls: Lawn bowls coach Norhashimah Ismail, with her arms wide open, walking towards the women’s fours team of (from left) Siti Zalina Ahmad, Syafiqa Haidar Afif Abdul Rahman, Nur Ain Nabilah Tarmizi and Afiqah Dayana Budiman.

ONE has already won almost everything the sport has to offer; the other took up the sport only two years ago and is making her maiden appearance at the SEA Games stage.

But 40-year-old Siti Zalina Ahmad and Afiqah Dayana Budiman, who is half her teammate’s age, were united in their determination to make sure Malaysia kept their reputation as the undisputed lawn bowls powerhouse in the region.

Siti Zalina, 19-year-old Afiqah, Nur Ain Nabilah Tarmizi and Syafiqa Haidan Afif rolled their way to a 17-6 win over the Philippines at the Friendship Gate in Clark as the Malaysians picked up all three golds at stake yesterday.

The finals had been brought forward to yesterday from today for fear of Typhoon Tisoy which is predicted to hit Philippines today. The field was also not in the best of conditions.

But champions do not blame playing conditions.

So, Izzat Shameer Dzulkeple, Mohd Fairus Abdul Jabal and Mohd Syamil Syazwan frustrated the hosts in the men’s triples final and wrapped up the final contest shortly, winning 14-8 to deliver Malaysia’s second gold.

The third and final one for the day came from Emma Firyana Saroji-Nurul Alyani Jamil, cheered on by their jubilant teammates, went on to overcome Brunei duo Matali Amaliah-Esmawandy Brahim 21-14 in the women’s pairs final.

Siti, teary-eyed after emerging triumphant with her third career gold from six SEA Games appearances, was relieved they pulled off the mission to win all three finals contested.

“We were fighting against the terrible conditions of the field. The grass was not even and I think this is one of the worst conditions I experienced in my lawn bowls career so far. “I have played in every condition imaginable but I have never come across this sort of surface.

“There was really a lot of pressure on us as we came here with a mission to win five golds and we just could not let this chance go regardless of the conditions, ” said Siti, the two-time former Commonwealth Games champion.

It was pint-sized Afiqah who looked the most confident, hitting her targets despite being the youngest in the squad.

“It is my first SEA Games and I just wanted to go back with a medal. I did not dare to think of winning the gold but my teammates were just united today and I could not let them down, ” said Afiqah, who stands at 1.50m tall.

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