Hong Kong top bowler Ken Chan proved that Hong Kong, while competitive, still has to take further steps to be a major force in the world’s lawn bowls arena. After narrowly missing out on the chance of progressing to the play-off stage, Chan finished at a respectable seventh overall at the World Champion of Champions competition last week.
This may look like a step backwards from the runners-up achieved by his Hong Kong team-mate Stanley Lai last year, but Chan has a different view.
“Due to work commitments I have not been putting too much emphasis on training lately, but I still feel the sense of progress for my bowling technique,” said Chan, who won an impressive 8 out of 11 games in the tournament.
“If we have better preparation we can bring back the past glory to Hong Kong.”
Chan started well, winning five of the first six games and only lost by a thin margin to local bowler and top favourite Shaun Scott.
But disaster struck in the seventh game when he played mid-table player Patrick Cairns from Botswana. It was a tight game and Chan lost by one shot in each set and lost the game.
Losing did not deteriorate Chan’s spirit and he went on to win the next three games to set up a final showdown with Englishman Thomas Bishop – who was level on points with Chan, but was in third position by a better set difference.
Both players needed to win this final group stage game to get into the play-off—as the other two positions were already taken by Scott (New Zealand) and Robert Weale (Wales).
But weather conditions seemed to put a third player on the green as gusty winds frustrated both players.
“We just tried to draw close to the jack and the result really depends on how the wind blew after you delivered the bowl,” explained Chan. “Both of us tried to adapt to the wind and it seemed like we were playing against the wind, rather than our opponent.”
The first set was a tight affair, but Chan lost 10:6. In the second set Chan played more opportunity shots in order to claim back the deficit, but in vain. Bishop opened up a gap midway through and won the set easily at 12:3.
“The better player won and I have no complaints about it. However I need to get more experience in playing under different conditions, such of the gusty situation like today,” said Chan. He vowed to come back stronger with more training.
The win pushed Bishop to the top of the table. He went on to defeat Weale in the Semi-finals and Scotland’s Alastair White 8:4, 9:5 in the Final to win the title.
Meanwhile, in the women’s competition, Hong Kong representative Elisa Cheung’s chances of qualification were never optimistic after being drawn into a tough group. She suffered five consecutive defeats in the first two days. She only won 3 of the 11 games and finished 22nd out of the 25 participants.
World No.2 Karen Murphy of Australia dominated the women’s Final against Scotland’s previously unbeaten Lorna Smith 10-6, 11-6 to win the title.
The World Champion of Champions Singles were held at Burnside Bowling Club in Christchurch, New Zealand, from Nov 25 to Dec 1.
Claudius Lam is an Officer with the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association.