Thursday January 31, 2013
Rafiq among four picked for Commonwealth Championships
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Youngster Mohd Rafiq Ismail looks set to win a place in the national elite bowling squad going by his selection to represent Malaysia at the Commonwealth Championships in Auckland from Feb 24-March 4.
Rafiq, a member of the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress’ (MTBC) special squad, was chosen following his impressive third-place finish behind American professional bowlers at the recent World Tour’s International Championships in Nagoya. He took home US$16,659.
Rafiq first grabbed the nation’s attention when he won the prestigious Masters title at the 2011 Milo International Junior All-Stars after just nine months in the special squad.
The 16-year-old finished second in the Kuala Lumpur Open and the Penang Pesta International last year. He also emerged champion in the boys’ Open at the Milo International Junior All-Stars Championships.
Besides Rafiq, the MTBC also picked elite members Isaac Russell Paul, Siti Shazwani Ahmad Suhaimi and Dayang Khairuniza Dhiyana Abang Jamalidon in a four-member line-up for the Commonwealth Championship.
Rafiq has performed well since joining the special squad in 2010.
The MTBC’s management committee have endorsed national coach Holloway Cheah’s recommendation for his promotion as a replacement for the retired Aaron Kong.
Rafiq’s name will be submitted to the National Sports Council (NSC) for endorsement and funding next month.
Rafiq, who is a student at the SMK Bukit Indah in Ampang, is hoping to make an impact on his maiden appearance in the championships in Auckland.
“I am excited and honoured to represent Malaysia in a team event. I have been consistent in senior Open events before but I do not want to pressure myself by setting targets.
“I will do my best and, hopefully, win some medals.
“I heard Australia, England and Singapore are sending their top bowlers, so I hope to gain from this experience,” said the left-handed bowler.
Described as fearless on the lanes, Rafiq believes his biggest asset is his ability to stay focused during a championship.
“I do not fear anyone as bowling is not a physical sport. It is a sport anyone can win.
“I also do not focus on others in competitions as doing that only adds to the pressure. I go into events aiming for a top-five finish. Anything beyond that is a bonus,” said Rafiq.