The Hong Kong Youth Squad achieved their best results at the World Youth Bowls Championship as both the men’s singles and the mixed pairs finished in fifth.
The annual event was held at Broadbeach Bowls Club, the venue of next month’s Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Hong Kong joined the hosts Australia and other countries and territories such as Canada, Guernsey, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Malta, Namibia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Turkey and Wales at the event.
Hong Kong representatives Angel So, Yunse Ha, James Po and Jason Choi participated in the men’s and women’s singles as well as the mixed pairs competitions. This is also the second year for So and Po to compete at the event.
The event started with the mixed pairs competition. The previous experience helped So and Po with their confidence and they defeated a strong New Zealand team 18:12 in the first game. They then lost narrowly at 12:13 to the Welsh team but immediately bounced back to defeat Ireland 16:8 and Canada 12:11.
In the fifth game they suffered the heaviest loss of the competition when they faced the eventual champions Aaron Teys and Ellen Ryan. The scoreline of 29:2 halted their momentum a bit and they followed-up with another lost to the Australia and Papua New Guinea combination.
Knowing that only a win would guarantee their progress, So and Po stayed focus and performed extremely well against the second-placed Scotland and Norfolk Island combination and escaped with a narrow 11:10 victory.
In the play-off, they played against a combined team of Malta and Namibia. Both players were a bit tired as it was the fourth game of the day and they were on the chasing side from the fourth end. In the fifteenth end, the gap was cut to only two points but their opponents geared up, took the last three ends, and progressed to the semi-finals.
The other mixed pairs of Ha and Choi only won two games and finished eighth in the group.
In the men’s singles, Choi won four of the first seven games, putting him in fourth place, and he needed to defeat New Zealander Keanu Darby to have a chance to progress. Choi maintained his composure and duly disposed of Darby 21:6. The results elsewhere also favored him as the third-placed Gariga Babona from PNG lost in the last game and Choi progressed with a better shot difference.
Choi faced Ross Owen from Wales in the playoff. Choi was not that focus in the first three ends and lost six shots. He then concentrated again and drew level at 7:7 after the ninth end. The score was tied at 9:9 after the twelfth end but Owen geared up to win the game 21:12.
In the other group, Po won four and lost four to finish sixth of the group.
For the women’s singles, Ha only won one game and finished second from bottom. So did not win any games and finished bottom.
Hong Kong Team Manager Danny Ho believed Choi and Po performed quite well in the competition, “They played with their best standard, however they all need to work on consistency. In many games, they were off a little bit and their opponents would take advantage and gain the benefit. Angel needed to learn how to manage pressure because this may hamper her future development.
“Technical-wise our players do not have big difference with other teams, except for teams like Australia and New Zealand. But we need to focus on our constancy because sometimes we lost to teams that we should have beaten easily,” said Ho.
Hosts Australia ruled on the final day of the competition when Aaron Teys celebrated a double victory as he followed up his victory in the men’s singles by combining with Ellen Ryan to take the mixed pairs title. In the women’s singles final, Kristina Krstic came through 21-13 against New Zealand’s Katelyn Inch, regained the title she won in 2015.
Next week in Lawn Bowls
Tiger Bowls takes the stage on March 10 and 11, with matches from 9am each day at CCC, FC, HKFC, IRC and KCC.
Claudius Lam is an officer of the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association