AFTER wrapping up their final practice session yesterday, seasoned campaigners Alex Liew and Shalin Zulkifli feel that they will be able to turn Thailand into a favourite hunting ground for Malaysia.
Alex and Shalin will be out to lead the Malaysian men's and women's teams out respectively today in the singles bowling competition at the SF Strike Bowl in Bangkok.
Malaysia have never won more than two gold medals in an official Games in Thailand but a lot of hard work had been put in to end the poor run.
“The core of the Thai team used to be hook bowlers. But now, they have a mix of everything,” said Alex, who is the only southpaw in the men's team.
“And when the competition starts tomorrow, everyone will be fighting on an equal footing. On top of that, all of us have to bowl on short and long oil patterns. The lanes will not favour one particular group of bowlers.
“We have a strong men's team. Everyone in the team has won an Open title this year. We are certainly going to give Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines good fights.”
Alex, who is making his third appearance in the Games, added that a personal target for him in Bangkok was to win individual honours.
“I have gold medals in the doubles, trios and team. It will be great for me to win the individual events as well this time,” he said.
Shalin said that the women's team were all raring to get into action.
“We are all so excited. This is mainly because we are confident that this will be a great SEA Games for us,” she said.
“Like Alex, I failed to win any medal when Thailand last hosted a multi-sport Games (the 1998 Asiad). But I have won two Open titles here (in the last two years) and I am confident that it will rub off into these Games.”
Malaysia's best record in the SEA Games hosted by Thailand was a 2-3-0 haul in Chiang Mai in 1995. In the Games held in Bangkok in 1975 and 1984, Malaysia returned with a haul of 1-3-2 and 1-2-2 respectively.
In the Asian Games in 1978 and 1998, the medal tally was 1-0-0 and 0-0-1 respectively.
Team manager Cheah Ban Cheng said: “So far, everything points to a good showing from our bowlers.”