Sunday, March 21, 2004

Holloway finally steps into the spotlight (The Sunday Mail)

THIS was one occasion bowling coach Holloway Cheah could not shun away
from the publicity and limelight when he was accorded Coach of the Year
2003 award by the National Sports Council on Tuesday night in a glittering
ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.
Holloway, the former national bowler in the 1970s, has always stayed
away from the limelight in his coaching career which he started soon after
hanging up his gloves following the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games.
His award was for his contribution last year where he played a major
part in the national team's success in winning both the men and women's
5th World Tenpin Team Cup titles in Odense, Denmark, and the gold by the
women's team of five at the 15th World Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
But Holloway's contribution to the sport has been longstanding and his
award was way past due.
A member of the 1978 Bangkok Asiad team who won Malaysia's first ever
bowling gold medal, the sport has been his way of life from young.
Holloway, who turned 62 on Nov 27, came to Kuala Lumpur from Penang in
the 1960s looking for a job and he joined Federal Bowl.
Basketball was his first love and bowling was second during his
But all that changed when he was with Federal Bowl, where he later
joined the food and beverage department in the hotel before moving to Star
Bowl in the former Merlin Hotel (now Concorde Hotel).
It was here that Holloway started his coaching career and helped set up
the Star Bowl youth team.
He then took charge of the Kent Bowl youth team when the Star Bowl moved
to Kent Bowl in Asia Jaya.
It was in 1984 that Holloway first started to get involved with the
national team and national development coaching.
Through the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) and National Sports
Council (NSC), he had the opportunity to work under three great American
coaches over several years with special certification through Dick Ritger
for basic and silver certification programme, Bill Taylor for ball
drilling and coaching programme, and all-time great Tom Kouros while he
was here in 1987 to prepare the national side for the Helsinki World
Within this period, Holloway played a part in moulding the team who
later mounted a serious challenge at the 1987 Asian Youth Championships at
Tokyo where Karen Lian and Lydia Kwah won the girls doubles and then
dominated the 1989 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
From May 1990 until 2000, he worked with Sid Allen as the local national
coach and gained a great deal of experience from the Canadian, who is one
of the best coaches in the world.
Together, they brought success after success to the country while at the
same time, developed many young bowlers to form a huge pool.
From May 2001, Holloway took over as national chief coach and was
responsible for winning seven gold medals at the 2001 KL SEA Games and two
golds in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
In between, there were countless international victories.
His greatest moment, of course, was leading the men and women's team to
victory in Odense for the first ever wins in the World Team Cup and the
women's gold medal at the World Championships.
Holloway has since quit as national chief coach as he was spending too
much time travelling which prevented him from managing the Pyramid
Megalanes fulltime.
Holloway worked with Chris Batson during the World Championships.
He had earlier made personal recommendations that Batson, who was hired
as the roving development coach, be made the national coach.
But bowling is much thicker than blood and he still helps Batson and
MTBC in their development programme, but on a part-time and as-and-when
Asked about the recognition given to him, he shifted the attention to
his bowlers saying it was them who brought success and he was just tagging
And that is truly Holloway. A man who works very hard, but stays in the
background when success comes and lets the athletes enjoy the glory.
It is indeed hard to see such a coach like Holloway come by, who not
only is a knowledgeable coach, but who puts emphasis on his team and takes
the backseat each time they do well.
It is hardly surprising the bowlers have the utmost respect for him and
only address him as "Sir".
Not that he demanded it but it was out of respect.
Holloway's philosophy is simple: "Respect is earned and not demanded."
"I always felt the bowlers have to trust your ability for them to give
you the attention and respect," said Holloway.
"I always make it a point to be close to the bowlers because I need to
know them well enough to work with them.
"But that does not mean just because I am close with them, I compromise
when it comes to training.
"We know where to draw the line between friends and coach.
"I have never had any problems with the bowlers," said the father of
His only daughter, Esther, is testimony of that.
He personally coached his 17-year-old daughter and did not spare her
from the tough regiment.
And Esther finally made the grade when she was promoted to the national
Maybe, it was for this reason too, that Holloway felt it was about time
he stepped down as national coach, because the last thing he would have
wanted to hear is his daughter is in the national squad because he is the
There is no doubt Esther made the national team on merit and it was a
proud moment for Holloway when she graduated into senior rank.
His eldest son, who is 31, is a pilot while the other two, aged 27 and
21, only bowl for recreation.
Holloway may have bowed out from the national team without fanfare, but
his legacy could well be continued by his daughter, who is fast turning
out to be a force to be reckoned with.
We certainly have not heard the last of Cheahs yet!