26th Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships
Malaysia, Korea crowned team champions
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16th January, Hong Kong: Malaysia ended a 15-year wait to win the Men's Team of 5 gold medal at the 26th Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships while Korea claimed their fourth consecutive championship Women's Team gold.

Malaysia's Muhd Rafiq Ismail, Syafiq Ridhwan (alternated by Syazirol Shamsudin), Tun Hakim, Timmy Tan and Ahmad Muaz, who were third in the overnight first block, started the second block with a vengence rolling a sizzling 1258 to take over the lead.

Overnight leader, Kim Donghyeon, Kil Junseong, Park Donghyuk (alternated for Lee Ikkyu), Park Geonha and Ji Geun of Korea slipped to second behind Malaysia by 26 pins. UAE's Hussain Alsuwaidi, Obaid Alsaadi, Sultan Alqubaisi, Mahmood Alattar and Naif Oqab also slipped down one spot after managing only 1041.

Malaysia kept a strong pace with 1260 in the fifth game to stretch their lead over their nearest rival by 243 pins and then wrapped a convincing victory with 1198 for a total of 7323 pinfalls. The win ended a 15-year wait for the Team gold which they last won back in 2008 in Hong Kong.

Malaysia winning the Team gold after a 15-year break

Korea was still second before the sixth and final game but the Emiratis finished stronger with 1207 to snatch the silver medal with 7079 leaving Korea with the bronze medal on a total of 7044. Singapore and Thailand made a last-gasp bid but ended in fourth and fifth positions.

Malaysia swept the Men's All Events medals as well as having their bowlers occupying the top five positions. Muhd Rafiq Ismail, Timmy Tan and Tun Hakim claimed the gold, silver and bronze medals with 6128, 6073 and 5854 respectively.

Muaz and Ridhwan completed the top five with 5938 and 5850. All six of them qualified for the Masters finals including four Koreans, two Hong Kong nationals, one each from UAE, Macau and Qatar.

Meanwhile, Korea picked up their third gold medal of the championships by not only successfully defending the title they won last time out in Kuwait in 2019 but also won the Women's Team gold for the fourth consecutive Asian Championhsips.

Baek Seungja, Yang Sujin, Hwang Yeonju, Kim Hyun Mi (alternating Kim Jinju) and Jung Dawun led throughout the second block with 1215, 1144 and 1090 for a total of 7177. Singapore's Daphne Tan, Bernice Lim (alternating for Jazreel Tan), Shayna Ng, New Hui Fen and Cherie Tan settled for the silver medal with 7097.

The battle for the bronze was more intense. There was only 35 pins separating Malaysia and China going into the sixth and final game. Shi Ailin, Peng Rui, Wang Xinlin, Yang Liyan and Zhang Yuhong prevailed by ending the second block with 1146 for a 6819 total to edge Malaysia for the bronze by 56 pins.

Malaysia's Natasha Roslan, Esther Cheah, Gillian Lim, Sin Li Jane and Puteri Nurul Dini, who were visibly under pressure bowling the final game next to the Chinese, suffered a 1059 sixth game to miss the podium with 6763.

Korea wining their four consecutive Team gold

Singles and Trios gold medallist, Cherie Tan picked up her third gold and a fourth for Singapore after finishing the top of the Women's All Events standings with 5942. Baek Seungja took the silver with 5781 and Shayna Ng the bronze with 5745.

All six Singapore women qualified for the Masters finals with five Koreans, four Malaysians leaving only one spot, which went to Wang Ya Ting of Chinese Taipei, who finished 12th.

The top 16 men and top 16 women will contest the Round-Robin Matchplay Finals over eight games in the first block on long oil pattern tomorrow at 10.00am local time. They will resume with their second block of seven games and a position-round match to determine the top 3 men and top 3 women advancing to the Stepladder Grand Finals.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Hong Kong.

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