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Silver lining as duo boost Commonwealth hopes
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Pengiran Haji Tengah bin Pengiran Haji Tejudin and Ampuan Ahad bin Ampuan Kasim celebrate at the podium during the 12th Asian Lawn Bowls and under-25 Championships at RK Puram Sports Complex in New Delhi. – BRUNEI LAWN BOWLS

BRUNEI Darussalam national lawn bowl athletes Pengiran Haji Tengah bin Pengiran Haji Tejudin and Ampuan Ahad bin Ampuan Kasim boosted their chances of selection in the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games after claiming a silver medal in the Men’s Pairs event of the 12th Asian Lawn Bowls Championships in New Delhi, India recently.

The national pair found success at an Asian-level tournament after edging Malaysia’s pair Muhammad Hizlee Abdul Rais and Fairul Izwan Abdul Muin only months after forming part of the Men’s Triples team that clinched silver at the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Pengiran Haji Tengah and Ampuan Ahad were agonisingly close in winning gold during the final with only three ends to go but Malaysia clawed their way from 19-10 down to bring the match into sudden death with both teams locked at 19 points apiece.

The SEA Games holders looked down and out but somehow won by a solitary point after good work with the jack.

China’s Yongmin Mao and Liu Qiang and India’s Anand Narzary and Krishna Xalxo shared joint bronze but the former took a spot in the podium due to their third place placing. The hosts settled for fourth place due to their margin of defeat.

Apart from allowing Malaysia a route back into the game and letting victory slip from within their grasps, the national pair had been perfect throughout the campaign.

The national pair had eyed for excellence after cruising in the preliminary rounds with emphatic victories over Hong Kong and Sri Lanka before their seeing their unbeaten record halted by Malaysia.

Brunei beat an experienced Hong Kong team 16-7 before making light work in a 25-6 win against Sri Lanka and concluded group play against favourites Malaysia with a good fight in a 10-12 defeat.

With Pakistan pulling out due to unforeseen circumstances which consequently resulted in a win being automatically awarded to all teams, the match against Malaysia was seen as determining the top two of Group ‘A’.

Brunei then shocked tournament hosts India, a team who famously sealed a place in the quarterfinals in one of the world’s major tournaments 16-7 in the semi-finals to earn a rematch against Malaysia for the championship.

The national pair slipped at a critical time but it was their only blip in an otherwise perfect tournament as they made huge strides towards the possibility of winning a spot in Gold Coast, Australia next April.

“The Asian Lawn Bowls provided us the opportunity to double our medal haul. Prior to this, we have already claimed silver in the Men’s Triples at the 29th SEA Games. We feel really happy and it is a bonus for us,” said Pengiran Haji Tengah in an interview with the Bulletin.

Pengiran Haji Tengah also expressed hopes of competing in even more internationally recognised tournaments or at a world stage if they are chosen to represent the country at the Commonwealth Games.

The one half of the duo said they are currently undergoing training on their own to fine-tune the areas which needed improving in order to be able to match teams who have long been involved in the sport.

“We will continue to make efforts and coordinate with my partner to be a pair that can show more harmony. That is what we hope for,” said the national lawn bowl athlete.

“We will also identify where our weaknesses are,” he further added.

Pengiran Haji Tengah said there are only little fine-tuning in terms of working on their techniques with the emphasis firmly placed on strengthening his partnership with Ampuan Ahad.

With several nations already beginning their preparations in earnest, he welcomed solid support from relevant authorities adding that continuous training must be maintained.

“If we are given allocation to prepare us ahead of bigger tournaments, we can already be exposed to take part in training in established countries in terms of their play.

“We will be diligent to undertake intensive training if we are provided such allocation,” said Pengiran Haji Tengah.

He cited an example where Malaysia attended a training camp for a month to South Africa before their participation in the SEA Games.

Ampuan Ahad highlighted the team’s excellence after beating an experienced India side and also shared that he met their skip when they played in the Men’s Singles competition in China.

He said that India forfeited the game during the 14th end as they were too far behind and could no longer catch Brunei.

“In the final, we produced an excellent performance because we left Malaysia trailing by some distance. We were only left with three ends to complete but fortunes were not on our side.

“They got huge points in the 12th and 13th end and could catch us up to the 15th end where in the end they forced the game to a draw,” said Ampuan Ahad.

Ampuan echoed his partner’s sentiments in their hopes of gaining selection in the Commonwealth Games where it is likely that they will converge with world class players.

“If we are selected, we will work hard in training because we know the field is world class. It will not be easy to win a match, let alone reach the quarterfinals but through our efforts and if the relevant authorities send us, we will be more persistent in training and to show more excellence in friendly matches,” Ampuan said.

Part of the World Bowls calendar, the 12th Asian Lawn Bowls and under-25 Championships was held from October 4-9 at the RK Puram Sports Complex in New Delhi.

Courtesy from Borneo Bulletin