Posts Tagged esther cheah

Shalin is ready for showdown with Maxine Nable

Wednesday July 8, 2009


KUALA LUMPUR: The old rivalry between Shalin Zulkifli and Maxine Nable of Australia is expected to heat up in the women’s world championships, which will be held in Las Vegas from July 25-Aug 2.

Although they are good friends, Shalin and Maxine have been out to outdo each other in competitions since their days as juniors.

And the battle has now taken a new height with both trying to make a name for themselves as professional bowlers.

The 31-year-old Shalin said that she was looking forward to bowling alongside Maxine for the first time in the world championships as professionals.

“Some of the bowlers from my batch turned professional much earlier. With the decision to allow pros to compete in the world championships for the first time, it will be interesting to see how we fare,” said Shalin.

“Nable and I are good friends but I am looking forward to renewing our rivalry in the world championships.”

Shalin turned pro last year while Maxine has been in the business for almost 10 years.

Although a quiet battle between Shalin and Nable has been ongoing, the pinnacle of a showdown between Malaysia and Australia took place at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Then, Australia had banked on Nable and several other top guns, among them Cara Honeychurch and Ann Maree-Putney, to silence the Malaysian challenge.

This time, Australia will not have their Commonwealth Games star performer, Honeychurch, who won three gold medals, at the world championships but Shalin still has not ruled them out as main challengers.

Besides Nable and Maree-Putney, the others in the Australian team are Carol Gianotti, Bianca Flanagan, Kara Triulcio and Natalie Shelley.

Shalin said that Nable would not be the only one from her batch who would be out to impress at the world championships.

She has also rub shoulders with Stephanie Nations of the United States in her younger days.

“Maxine, Stephanie and I are bowlers from the same era. We know what we are capable of doing since our junior days. I foresee an exciting time ahead in the world championships,” said Shalin.

Besides Shalin, the others in the Malaysian team are Esther Cheah, Wendy Chai, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi and Sharon Koh.

Except for debutant Siti, all the others were member of the team who won the gold medal in the previous championships in Mexico two years ago.

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ESTHER CHEAH – A World Champion

 Esther had agreed to an interview with Ivy when she was back home for her semester break, but due to unforseen circumstances, it did not take place. Nevertheless, this excerpt from ‘The New Straits Times’ should be just as good.


SUNDAY GUEST WITH ESTHER CHEAH: Stepping into the unknown is a challenge I relish



TO tell you the truth, I will be in unknown territory when I don my university colours for the men’s team in collegiate tournaments.

Of course I’m really excited but also slightly worried. I don’t really know what to expect and the format of play will also be foreign to me.

However, it’s a challenge I’m ready to take. In fact, I’m determined to make a name for myself when it starts.

But the stint is not all about improving my skills and game, it’s also about keeping my diet and fitness in check.

I have to admit I’ve gained a bit of weight off late, and I need to lose some kilogrammes.
During my recent semester break in Kuala Lumpur, I spent a bit of time at the National Sports Institute where I received treatment for my recurring back injury.

I was also given a comprehensive diet and fitness programme to guide me through here (US).

I need to follow both programmes strictly as it’s part of the preparation for the Women’s World Championships in July (Las Vegas).

Anyway, I was spotted by David Kilts, the coach of my university’s men’s team, last August when I was going through routine training at the Sun Valley Lanes Centre which is a 10-minute drive from my hostel.

Kilts was impressed with the way I bowled and he initially invited me to represent his own club for the centre’s (Sun Valley) weekend league.

As time went by, he decided that I should play for the university men’s team and this offer came somewhere last October, just before I left for the World Ranking Masters in Mexico. Of course I agreed.

The men’s inter-university season is ongoing and I should be making my debut very soon.

The stint is timely as it’s a world championships year, and bowling with the boys will definitely build my confidence. It will also give me the opportunity to learn more about the American game.

It may be something new for me but in the US, it’s a norm for men and women bowlers to compete under one umbrella tournament.

The regional tournaments follow the same concept. I played in one of them last year and I was surprised at the large number of women competing against men in the event. I did not do too well as it was my first try.

My acceptance into the men’s team also ends all my struggles in the US, which I had to endure since 2006.

Arrangements were initially made for me by the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) that I would study and also bowl at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln but upon arriving, I was told that I was barred from National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women’s tournaments due to my professional status in Malaysia.

I appealed several times and while awaiting an answer, I was allowed to train with the university’s women’s team.

But the NCAA refused to budge from its decision and that’s when, just before the 2007 Korat Sea Games, I decided to train and compete on my own.

It was tough training on my own without any guidance as I always had my father and national coach Holloway Cheah or other coaches by my side.

I kept in touch with my dad online and he would give me tips and advice on my game.

It was not the same as compared to having him around but I knew I had no choice but to adapt with the arrangement.

However, despite the shortcoming I managed three gold medals in Korat and also a gold in last year’s Asian Championships.

My goal for this year is of course to help Malaysia successfully defend the world title in the team event in Las Vegas and also try qualify for the Professional Bowlers’ Association (PBA) women’s tour.

It will be extremely tough this time at the world meet as professional bowlers will make their appearance for the first time.

Of course the United States will emerge with a stronger team as they will have professionals to rely on.

As for turning professional, I will need to compete in the women’s tour qualifiers. It will be my second try after failing to make the cut last season.

Generally, I have a lot more to learn and achieve in the game and despite my achievements, I am hungry for more.


Esther is a two-time world champion with a long line of credentials to her name. Expect a lot more achievements from this very talented young bowler.

Till next time…happy bowling.


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