By Coco Liu (20S06L)
Photographs courtesy of Chee Yun Hui Julia (20S03D) from Raffles Photographic Society
It is easy to mistake bowling for a low-intensity sport. After all, compared to other sports like badminton or track and field, bowling is played at a much slower pace. There aren’t any furious sprints or rapid rallies–just a player, a ball, and ten pins.
To not rectify that misconception here and now would be to do an enormous disservice to the sport. Indeed, as schools all over Singapore congregated at Orchid Country Club on 23 April 2019 for the second and last day of the quartet event (with the singles and doubles events already over) of the National School Games Bowling Championships, the tension in the air was palpable.
A note for the uninformed: bowling is as much a mental game as a physical one–with each shot, bowlers have to have intense focus, concentrating on the the adjustments to be made, the mistakes not to be made, and the targets to be hit. It didn’t help that the oiling patterns on the lanes for this competition were unexpected, pushing the teams’ adaptability to the limits. For some players, like Sarah Yeo (19S03Q), who had achieved gold in the singles, doubles and overall categories as well as 2nd runners up in the quartet event last year, there was also the added pressure of defending her titles. Indeed, no one present could doubt that the mental challenge involved was formidable.
And yet, through it all, the team supported each other through thick and thin. If a player managed to score a strike, they would shout “WHAT TEAM?”, followed by the echo of “RAFFLES!” from the rest of the team and the supporters; if a player scored a spare, they would shout “RAF-” and the rest would respond “FLES!”; and even if the player scored neither of those, the rest of the quartet team would still give each other high fives in support. Even members of the team in the adjacent lane from a different school would occasionally high five the RI team in a display of sportsmanship.
This team spirit carried over into the team’s synergy as well, such as in how the Boys’ team actively covered for each other over the course of the competition, such that the stronger players at any moments would make up for the shortcomings of the weaker players. On the first of the four days, Josh Ho (19S06J) finished 1st and Jeremiah Khoo (20S06S) finished 7th, covering for Perry Wong’s (19S03F) 13th place standing and Tan Gian Sen’s (19S06O) 19th place standing. But on the second day, the latter two flipped it around, climbing to 7th and 12th respectively, making up for the fall of Josh and Jeremiah to 9th and 15th respectively. Even under the mounting pressure of ACJC rising in the standings, the boys continued to have each others’ backs, allowing them to defend the school’s position and coming in a respectable first runners-up.
Even so, this outward display of staunch camaraderie under less than enviable conditions was but a surface glimpse into what the teams possessed in spades–a visible and distinctive spirit at their heart, so strong that it overpowered the competitiveness and the mental challenges that the competition presented.
And this was not an easy competition—as noted by Perry Wong (19S03F), Captain of the Bowling Boys’ team, “the very experienced bowlers usually come from ACSI or ACJC…we never really stood a chance—some of these people are in team Singapore’s bowling team [or] have been training for many years.”
In spite of such gloomy odds, however, the team had the maturity to take stock of their blessings and maintain a positive outlook on how far they’d come. Naturally, “the J2s wanted to do well so as to make the most out of their last National School Games and to step down from the CCA without any regrets,” explained Sarah Yeo Su Ting (19S03Q), Captain of the Bowling Girls’ team. “However, we realised that we placed a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves for results when in fact what was more important should be making the most out of our last experience bowling together as a team.”
Perry also added, “[the junior batch] spread positive energy around when the team was feeling down after a bad day because they cared more for the team spirit rather than a trophy. [And] most other years, our spirit gets overpowered by the AC supporters, but this year it felt very different. We might lose out in terms of numbers, but this year, we sure showed that our spirit is so much stronger.”
At last, when the competition had concluded, both the Boys’ and Girls’ teams came away with a commendable overall first runners-up. Yet beyond their respectable results, the story at the heart of RI Bowling—of team spirit, perseverance, optimism, and sportsmanship—is one that transcends boundaries, resonating in each and every athlete as an exemplification of the spirit of sports.
JOSH HO XINGCHONG – 7th
PERRY WONG XING BO – 9th
TAN GIAN SEN – 11th
KHOO BOO CHENG JEREMIAH – 16th
MUHAMMAD ADLI ABIDI B ABDUL JABAR – 53rd
LIM WEI JUN – 54th
HONG JIA JUN ATHAN – 61st
CHIENG YU-XUAN ALBERT – 62nd
IRWIN TEO JIN KAI – 74th
TAN LUN HAO DANIEL – 75th
SIM TENG YANG MARK – 76th
LAM CHENG EN JOEL JEROME – 93rd
JOSH HO XINGCHONG – 1st
JOSH HO XINGCHONG, TAN GIAN SEN, PERRY WONG XING BO, KHOO BOO CHENG JEREMIAH – 2nd
YEO SU TING – 1st
DANIKA KAUR TEO LING – 7th
CHING MIN-FON PASCAL – 14th
GRACE YAP – 17th
VALERIE LAW – 19th
LIM QI HUI – 25th
EMMA LEE JIA QI – 35th
SIMONE ONG MEIQI – 41st
VALERIE LAW, YEO SU TING – 2nd
DANIKA KAUR TEO LING, CHING MIN-FON PASCAL, VALERIE LAW, YEO SU TING – 2nd
JOANNE TAN HUI LI