The Hong Kong lawn bowls team ended the year on a high with their biggest ever success at the Asian Championship, winning the overall champion, men’s and, women’s champion. The team also won medals in all the categories entered, with an aggregate of five golds, three silvers and two bronzes.
The Asian Championships, featuring 10 strong bowling countries in the region, was held from Dec. 3 to 9 at Bijiashan Park, Shenzhen, China. With China as host, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Singapore returned for the event held at Shenzhen, but regular Thailand missed out.
The gold medals came from men’s singles and pairs, women’s singles and triples, as well as the U25 girls singles. This more than doubled the previous best in 2003 of two golds, three silvers and three bronzes.
In the men’s singles, Tony Cheung defeated players from Malaysia, Singapore and Pakistan and only lost to Sunil Bahadur of India. He finished second of the group and progressed to the semi-finals. He drew to play Bahadur again, but this time it is Cheung to have last laugh, winning the game easily at 11:4, 11:2.
Cheung played Philippines’ Hommer Mercado in the final. The game is pretty one-sided and Cheung prevailed throughout, beating Mercado 9:4 and 8:3 to lift the first gold for Hong Kong.
The men’s pairs of Tony Cheung and Stanley Lai finished the group stage as the leader and went on to defeat Macau in the semi-final. They faced the Philippine pairs of Homer Mercado and Christopher Dagpin. Again the final is straight forward for the Hong Kong team as they cruised to a 16:6 victory.
In the women’s pairs, the Hong Kong duo of Dorothy Yu and Helen Cheung progress to the knock-out stage as second in the group. They defeated a strong Philippines team to progress to the final against India’s Farzana Khan and Lovely Choubey.
The final game was tight and the Hong Kong team was leading 12:9 with the last end to play. India held two in the last end, but failed to add another one with the last shot from the skip. The game finished 12:11.
In the women’s singles, Hong Kong’s Dorothy Yu faced two time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Siti Zalina Ahmad twice in the competition. Yu lost in the round-robin stage so needed to settle for second place in the group. Then the pair met again in the semi-finals and this time Yu performed superbly and beat Siti in two straight sets.
Yu went on to defeat Lovely Choubey from India 10:3, 1:9, 2:1 in a tight final to win her second gold at the tournament.
In the U25 Junior Championship, Vivian Yip finished second in her group before defeating Nur Ain Nabilah Binti Tarmizi from Malaysia in the final to add glory to the team.
Hong Kong boy Arthur Lam lost narrowly to Curte Guarin from the Philippines in the final to settle for silver.
Danny Ho, the Hong Kong team coach, attributed the success to the preparation they have done for the competition: “We have arranged 18 sessions of training for the team before the event, which included bowls tactics and physical trainings. All players have shown a high level of dedication and commitment to our course, and this has built our team spirit. We have also practiced on the actual venue several times before the competition and this gave us an advantage to become more familiar with the green.
“The introduction of a sports trainer who also took up the role of a physiotherapist also helped the players to maintain their good form throughout the competition,” said Ho.
Heron Lau, Vice President of Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association who is in charge of the Hong Kong team also echoed Ho’s comments: “This is the first time we took this event so seriously and is probably the best ever prepared event for the Hong Kong team. All coaches, selectors and players all demonstrated high level of commitment to this.
“The application of sports science throughout the preparation and competition also helped our performance. Judging from the results I think we are heading to the right direction,” said Lau.
Lau is particularly happy for the results the junior members achieved as this has shown that there was good progress in HKLBA’s four year development plan for the young bowlers.
Claudius Lam is an officer of the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association