HONG KONG—Hong Kong marginally edged out Korea to maintain its dominance in the sport of lawn bowls for the disabled by lifting three of the five titles at the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Open Championship for the Disabled 2018. Korea won the other two.
The event, which is organized annually by the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (HKPC&SAPD), was supported by more than 40 disabled bowlers from Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore. It was held last Saturday and Sunday, Mar 17-18 at the Siu Lek Yuen Sports Ground in Shatin.
Of the six competitions organized, only the Mixed Singles Open was restricted for local participants and the other five were opened to the overseas bowlers.
Hong Kong’s Kwok Wing and Wu Man Ying won gold at the B1-B4 Mixed Singles and B5-B8 Women’s Singles respectively.
After that it was the Korea team to show their strength when Yang Tae-In defeated Shan.Shanmuganathan from Singapore to win the B5-B6 Men’s Singles, and Kim Suk-Sik beat Hong Kong’s Wu Tak King to lift the B7-B8 Men’s Singles title.
The last discipline of the tournament was the Mixed Pairs and it was again a show down between Hong Kong and Korea. Wu Tak Man, who just lost the B7-B8 title to Korea, partnered with Lau Siu Kwong to face the Korea team of Jung Duk Soon and Kim Yong Tae in the final.
The match was pretty even as Wu capitalized on the home green advantage to battle the good drawing skills from the Koreans. At the end it needed a perfect shot from Wu’s last bowl to win the game.
Dr James Lam, chairman of the HKPC&SAPD, is pleased that the event was held successfully, “Ogranise and promote local and international competitions is one of our missions and we have been doing this for many years. We are happy to see Korea and Singapore sending their strong team this year. I hope their participation will enhance the competitiveness of our athletes and get them better prepared for future events.
“In Hong Kong we have less than 100 disabled bowlers and we hope this kind of event will encourage participation and support of the sport,” said Lam.
Hong Kong has been a major force in the international disabled lawn bowls arena for a long time. In 1996 at Atlanta when lawn bowls was last featured in a Paralympic Games, Hong Kong bowlers Fiona Tang won a silver and Jimmy Chiu won a bronze medal in the singles. In the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled in Busan, Korea, Chiu won a gold in singles and collaborated with Eric Curlewis to win another gold in pairs. In the Asian Para Games in Incheon in 2014, Chiu also won a gold in singles and partnered with Tang Mei Yi to win a silver in the Mixed B2 Pairs.
Kim Ok Mok, president of the Korea Disabled Veterans Sports Council Lawnbowls Federation, was very satisfied with the event, “This is not because of the result but because of the participation. We will organize a similar event next year and hopefully more people will participate.”
Korea has been in the forefront of the sport as they have strong support from the government. Today they have 16 greens in Seoul for their 1600 disabled bowlers. In the Incheon Asian Para Games in 2014, lawn bowls was also featured as one of the 23 sports.
On the contrary, Singapore is still struggling with the development of the sport as there has been limited support from the government, according to Hui Beng Hong, vice president of the Lawn Bowls Association for the Disabled in Singapore, “We just started in 2004 and only have 50 players today. Despite this we do not have strong government support, we will continue to work with Bowls Singapore and other organisations to continue promoting the sport.”
Claudius Lam is an officer of the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association