Malaysia off to a good start at Women’s World Championships


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia produced yet another young bowling world champion when Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore defied the odds to win the women’s singles gold in awesome fashion at the Women’s World Championships in Hong Kong yesterday.

The 19-year-old debutant kept her cool despite a jittery start to beat hot favourite Son Yun-hee of South Korea 266-217 in the final to become the country’s second women’s singles champion.

Esther Cheah became the first and youngest world champion when she took the gold medal in the same event at the age of 17 in 2007 at Aalborg, Denmark.

Golden girl: Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore posing with her singles gold medal at the Women’s World Championships in Hong Kong

Jacqueline made it to the elimination round by virtue of finishing fourth – with her high score of 1,486 pins – in the 171-field after the completion of the six-game qualifying round which was held over three squads.

Jacqueline first sparked great hopes of a breakthrough when she cooly disposed of top seed Shayna Ng of Singapore 246-214 in the semi-finals yesterday.

Yun-hee, who had won three medals, including a gold at the previous world meet in Las Vegas, was equally impressive in downing Denmark’s Mai Ginge Jensen 279-268 in the other semi-final.

And when the rookie and seasoned campaigner clashed in the final, everything seemed to be going the Korean’s way – until the third frame.

That’s when, after a pep talk by national chief coach Holloway Cheah, Jacqueline stepped up a gear to reel home eight consecutive strikes for a well-deserved victory.

Jacqueline, who was only roped into the elite team this year, was overwhelmed with the sensational win.

“I am still trying to digest the win … it is my happiest moment. I cannot believe that I have won the singles gold in my first attempt in the world meet,” said Jacqueline in a telephone interview yesterday.

The Sibu lass, who took up the sport when she was 10 years old, said she was quite nervous when she found out that her final hurdle would be a Korean.

“Koreans have dominated the bowling scene for some time and I panicked when I found out that Yun-hee will be my opponent. I struggled to hit pin 10 in the first three frames and became nervous,” said Jacqueline, who can look forward to an RM80,000 jackpot courtesy of the National Sports Council’s (NSC) cash incentive scheme.

“Holloway gave me some pointers. I made some adjustments, calmed down and played my game. There was no turning back for me after that.”

Jacqueline can also be proud of her achievement in rolling down a series of 266-279-267-258-202-214 in the six-game qualifying round.

Her first three games’ total of 812 (266-279-267) is a new world record – erasing the 12-year-old mark of 747 set by South Korean Cha Min-jung in the singles event at the 1999 world meet in Abu Dhabi.

Jacqueline hoped her first gold medal for Malaysia in the world meet would inspire her team-mates to keep the momentum going when they get into action in the doubles, trios and team events in the next few days.

“This win will certainly boost our team’s confidence. The achievement today shows that we can outdo our opponents – no matter how strong they may be. And we will be going with this same mindset in the next few events,” she said.

Holloway said: “I am happy that a timely advice at the crucial stage made the difference for Jacqueline. She is a good fighter and showed nerves of steel. We have always produced young winners and it all goes back to the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress’ (MTBC) sound development programme.”

MTBC secretary Sidney Tung said: “This is another milestone for Malaysia. In 2007, Esther took part in her first world meet and she struck gold. This time, it is Jacqueline’s turn. Our first-timers have proven themselves countless time. I was so overjoyed that I even cried. This is another proud moment for Malaysian bowling.”

Here’s the lineup for the Doubles event: Jacqueline-Sin Li Jane, Esther-Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi and Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani-Sharon Koh.

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