Will the Malaysian men bowlers stand up and be counted to stop the Korean domination in the 37th Penang Pesta International Bowling Championship at the Mega Lanes, Prai, Penang.
That is the RM10,000 question after the Korean men had dominated in the Milo International Junior All-Stars championship last week in Sunway Mega Lane, in an all-Korean final where Kim Jong Wook defeated his teammate Park Jong Woo for the Boys Open title.
To make matters worse, the Malaysian men bowlers failed to stamp their authority in the the All-Star Classic that ended on Monday, where Siti Safiyah Amirah won in a competition where both men and women competed together.
The only Malaysian man who made the cut to the stepladder final to be among the top eight was national back-up bowler Kang Bo Long.
But even Kang, could not reach the final to save the blushes for the men, as he lost out to Korea’s national women bowler, Jeon Eun Hee in the semifinals.
For the Pesta Penang, Korean No 1, Choi Bok Eum, who was the 2005 Pesta Penang winner, together with teammates Jang Dong Chul and newly crowed Junior All-Stars champion, Kim Jong Wook, will represent Korea.
The Korean women’s challenge will come from newcomer to the national team, Jo Hyun Jung.
Zulmazran Zulkifli is the defending men’s champion, while Sharon Koh is the title holder for the women’s category.
Anyone of the women bowlers are capable of stepping up to win honours as it was it was proven in the All-Star Juniors where Esther Cheah won it and in the All Star Classic, it was Siti Safiyah.
Among the women bowlers who will carry the challenge include Penangites, Esther and Fatin Syazliana Adi Nasution, newly crowned All Star Classic champion, Siti Safiyah Amirah, Sin Li Jane,, Zandra Aziela, Zatil Iman and defending champion , Sharon herself.
As for the men, almost the entire national elite men squad are here which includes the like of homesters, Adrian Ang and Aaron Kong (left), Alex Liew, Daniel Lim, Muhd Nur Aiman, Muhamad Syafiq Ridhwan and Zulmazaran, besides the back-up and youth bowlers.
So will the men be able to upstage the strong Korean challenge?
National bowling team manager, Cheah Ban Cheng, who is also the Penang Pesta organising secretary, said that it is going to be tough, but not impossible.
“Like it or not, the Koreans have been stamping their authority world over,” said Cheah.
“They are represented by their top bowlers and it is a challenge to our bowlers to upstage them.
“However, although the odds may be against us, but nothing is impossible. After having seen the Koreans dominate in two championships in Kuala Lumpur, it will be good to see their domination broken here in Penang.”
The championship which is the oldest in the country – 37th edition – is expected to see some keen competition with several other top bowlers adding excitement and glamour to the competition.
Among them include Holland’s Wendy Kok and Ghislaine van der Tol, Singapore’s Jennifer Tan, Indonesia’s Tannya Roumimper and Putty Armein.
Currently the qualifiers are ongoing before the final rounds of the top 28 men and 18 women on Christmas Day decide on the top eight for the stepladders on Boxing Day where the champion prize money is RM10,000 for the men and RM5,000 for the women.