Published on Saturday June 7
Monday, June 09, 2014 - Malay Mail
J.B.was a of member of the three-man team who won the nation’s fi rst ever gold medal in the FIQ world championships in Manila in 1979 and culminated in him winning the Sportsman of the Year award for that year.
In Manila, JB partnered Alan Hooi and Edward Lim for the trios gold and also took the bronze medal in the Masters.
The feat in Manila was preceded by a stellar display from the national fi ve-man team at the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok. That golden feat by Datuk Dr P.S. Nathan, Holloway Cheah, Hooi, Edward Lim and Lee Kok Hong saw the team being inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2006.
But as JB, who will be 71 on Sept 30, looks back on his world class achievements, he can't help but be disappointed at how he was forced out of the sport.
JB started bowling at a late age of 30 and went on to represent the nation from 1977 to 1988.
“I must be the longest suspended athlete in the history of Malaysian sports and through no fault of mine," said J.B. His wife Doris Ang Lay Eng, also a former national bowler, shared his sentiments.
“I was caught in the crossfi re and had to retire in 1991 because of JB’s suspension. I only took part in three tournaments for the nation,” said Doris.
JB said the manner in which he exited the sport he loved was disheartening.
“My consolation was that my performance to help the team win the fi rst ever gold medal at the world championships gave bowling a new dimension in Malaysia. There were more people bowling and many began to believe that Malaysia were capable of being conquerors at the world level," he said.
JB said the suspension by the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) arose because he had spoken up on behalf of fellow national bowler Ringo Wang, who had been suspended by MTBC midway through the Selangor Open in 1988.
“I was working for Peter Stuyvesant and our company had sponsored a team which included Ringo. Midway through the tournament, Ringo was banned for having made a press statement earlier questioning his exclusion from the national team," said JB.
“I had questioned the ban because it was made during the tournament when they could have done it after the tournament. Ringo’s ban affected the team and it did not go down well with the sponsors.
“I was asked to attend a disciplinary meeting which I skipped because I felt I had not done any wrong. I was banned for two years and I accepted it.
“But MTBC’s condition to lift my ban af- ter two years was for me to make a public apology, which I refused because I have already served my suspension and punished for my actions. Why should I be punished twice.
“So the ban still stands! I have not received any letter from MTBC saying otherwise.”
JB said he had earlier run foul of MTBC when he was omitted from the 1986 Seoul Asian Games without a proper roll-off.
"I had questioned why I was left out without a proper trial and was told that I would not have done well in Seoul. I would have accepted the exclusion if I had not made the cut after the trials but at that time, I was bowling well and there were no trials.”
JB said he had been looking forward to giving back to the game as a coach in his latter years. JB, Edward Lim and Stanley Lim had attended a six-month coaching course in Fresno, USA as a reward for the world championship gold medal feat.
JB also had a bone to pick with Selangor TBA, who withdrew his life membership when he was banned. The life membership had been given for his feat in Manila.
“I feel that I was unjustly treated after all that I had done for the sport and decided to take up golf instead in 1990," said JB, who at one time was a seven handicapper but currently plays at 18.
But despite the unhappy episodes, JB said there were moments in bowling that he savours.
“Winning the fi rst ever gold medal at the world championships, and winning the Sportsman and Sportswoman awards with Shirley Chow in 1979 saw bowling make a clean sweep and that was a moment to savour,” he said.
The Penang-born, upon retirement from the tobacco industry, set up his own advertising company which he still manages at a much leisurely pace.
And despite his regrets with the way his bowling career turned out, he was full of praise for the sport and its current status.
“Bowling has grown and is a very popular sport at school level. We have gone on to win many world titles and it is still growing. It has tremendous potential,” said JB.
“My wife and I make it a point to drop by to see the young bowlers and meet old friends whenever there is a major competition.
“I hope that the ban that is hovering over me will be lifted. I do not want to continue to be banned after I leave this earth and cannot bowl in my new environment," laughed JB.
JB has a son, Joey, who is a chef with a prominent restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.