26th Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships
Malaysian, Singaporean crowned Masters champions
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18th January, Hong Kong: Muhd Rafiq Ismail of Malaysia and Cherie Tan of Singapore were crowned the Men's and Women's Masters champions after capturing their fourth gold medals at the 26th Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships.

Ismail, who had won three gold medals in the Trios, Team of 5 and All Events, picked up his fourth gold after defeating top-seed, Park Geonha of Korea, 488-450 over a two-game total all-lefty Men's final match. The second-seed edged Park, 234-214 before wrapping up a convincing second match 254-236 victory.

The 25-year-old had earlier prevented an all-Korean finals by easily dispatching third-seed and another left-hander, Ji Geun, 244-182 in the semi-finals to face another Korean in the final. Park, who settled for the silver medal ended the Round-Robin second block finals earlieras top-seed with 4147 total despite winning only two matches and drawing one.

The Malaysian, who trailed Park throughout the block, finished second with 4097 from three wins. Ji, who was fourth before the position round match, defeated Ahmad Muaz, 278-242 in the position-round match to snatch the last stepladder spot with 4064 from a total of five wins.

Muhd Rafiq Ismail winning his fourth gold in the Masters and a silver medal in the Singles

Two gold medallist, Muaz missed the cut for the stepladder finals by 16 pins with 4048, also from five wins in the second block. A third left-hander, Lee Tak Man completed the top five with the championship's six perfect 300 in the position-round match.

The women's division turned out into a all-Singapore affair. Triple gold medallist, Cherie Tan defeated team-mate and 2014 Asian Championships Masters champion, New Hui Fen, 481-351 in the women's final. Tan trashed New 246-149 in the first match and 235-212 in the second to claim her fourth gold of the championships.

The third-seed New had earlier sailed past second-seed and team-mate, Daphne Tan, 265-221 in the all-Singapore semi-finals to advance to the final. New, who settled for the silver medal, had struggled in the final because her bowling ball she used in the semi, had cracked and was unusable. A different ball did not give her the striking power she needed to topple the top-seed.

The second block battle for the top 3 stepladder spots was close amongst the top six contenders and was only decided in the position-round match. The leader defeated Malaysia's Natasha Roslan to seal top spot with 3980 from six wins.

Daphne defeated overnight first block leader and front-runner, Jung Dawun of Korea to snatch second spot with 3963 from five wins. New beat another Korean, Yang Sujin to clinch the third stepladder spot with 3941 from five wins an a draw.

Cherie Tan with her well-deserved fourth gold medal and a silver in the Team event

Jung, who won the Women's Masters gold at the 2012 Asian Championships held in Hong Kong, missed the cut by 15 pins on a total of 3926 and five wins. Natasha felled down to fifth with 3925 from five wins.

Malaysia emerged as the Men's champion team with a medal haul of 4-3-3, ahead of Korea with 1-2-3. Singapore was third with one gold. Singapore emerged as the Women's champion team with a medal haul of 4-3-3. Korea was second with 2-1-2.

Singapore was crowned the Overall Champion with 5 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. Malaysia settled for second with 4 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze medals. Korea finished third overall with a medal haul of 3-3-5.

All the athletes, coaches and team officials were invited to the Victory Banquet hosted by Hong Kong Tenpin Bowling Congress at KITEC International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowllon Bay. A total of 95 men and 50 women from 16 countries participated in the week-long championships.

At the banquet, the Asian Championship flag was handed over to Thailand, who will be the next host of the 27th edition in 2024.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Hong Kong.

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