Triumph, excitement and experiments filled Hong Kong’s lawn bowls events for 2012, here is a look back at the year that was.
After celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association, business was back to normal for the association in 2012.
As usual the biggest annual event, the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic, was completed with great success. But the talking point this year is the experimental move of introducing live television broadcast for the event.
Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association invested substantially to work with NowTV to bring all the finals live to all viewers; not just on TV but on the internet as well. The broadcast proved popular with local and overseas bowlers and generated a lot of interest from external parties.
Vincent Cheung, President of HKLBA agreed that the money was well spent.
“Judging from the feedback we got, I will have a strong case to continue using technology to promote the game,” Cheung said.
On the domestic side, “restricting movement of players during play” was this year’s most-discussed topic, even though the long discussion probably made a lot of people weary towards the end.
The rules, which aim at reducing the duration of a game and promoting game etiquette, were introduced in the second half of the Premier League and it immediately caused confusion and generated quite a number of comments. While a revised version was issued for the Triples League, it is expected that more revision will be required before it will go into the by-laws.
Meanwhile, efforts were made to solve the green shortage problem. Starting with the official opening of the Tseung Kwan O greens in the beginning of the year, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department also officially confirmed that a new green will be constructed in Shatin. While it will not be ready until 2014, it will help to service the growing number of bowls players and will be the seventh public green in Hong Kong.
Further, the upgrading of the current facilities at the Island East green – which started relaying the artificial turf in November – and the scheduled renovation of Victoria Park are expected to attract more players.
This year, we held our breath in couple of occasions:
On Apr 11, the Hong Kong bowls community crossed its fingers and hoped for the best as the Women’s Fours team took on Malaysia in the Final of the Asian Championship. An impressive 16:7 scoreline helped Hong Kong to break its seven-year gold drought. Other members of the team also brought home five bronze medals.
On Oct 28, Hong Kong once again held its breath when Stanley Lai faced Malaysian Mohamad Hizlee in the Men’s Final of the World Singles Champion of Champions. This time it was the Malaysian who had the last laugh as Hizlee triumphed 2:0. However, Lai’s silver and Mercredi Yeung’s fifth position in the women’s competition represents the best-ever results for Hong Kong in this competition.
On Dec 6, the Women’s Triples team faced New Zealand in the play-off of the World Championships, in Adelaide, after finishing second in the group stage. The gulf of difference between the two teams was fully exposed and Hong Kong was crushed 19:6. While the women ranked a creditable 10th on the overall table, the 15th position of the men represents the poorest results Hong Kong ever recorded in the competition.
HKLBA, while pleased with some results were disappointed with others – such as at the World Championships – and are understood to be looking at how to improve. A series of seminar and training camps were arranged for the internationals during 2012 and this is likely to continue in 2013.
“We gained some and lost some,” Cheung said in summary of the year. “But the direction of investing more to build a stronger Hong Kong team will not change.”
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