Wednesday February 20, 2013
Holloway decides to leave out young hotshot Rafiq from the elites
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: National bowling chief coach Holloway Cheah has finalised his six men elite squad for this year’s challenge but it did not include young hotshot Mohd Rafiq Ismail and Aris Ardila Santosoh.
Yesterday, Holloway said that he had withdrawn his recommendation to include the 16-year-old Rafiq in the elite squad after the National Sports Council (NSC)’s decision to reinstate the back-up squad.
Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) will now revert to their original structure of having six elite and six back-up bowlers for the national men and women’s teams.
For the last two years, NSC only funded the elite squad and scrapped the back-up squad. That led MTBC to form their own Special Squad, where Rafiq’s talent was unearthed.
Rafiq made heads turn this year when he finished third in the International Bowling Championship in Nagoya last month.
He performed way better than several professionals from the United States en route to an astounding third place finish.
Holloway said that Rafiq would be placed in the back-up squad while Aris will be relegated from the elite squad.
This will leave Holloway with his six regulars in the men’s elite team – Alex Liew, Adrian Ang, Zulmazran Zulkifli, Syafiq Ridhwan Abdul Malek, Muhd Nur Aiman Khairuddin and Isaac Russell Paul.
“I have changed my mind about Rafiq following NSC’s decision to bring back the back-up squad. I would rather let Rafiq stay in the back-up squad to continue his progress,” said Holloway.
“As I can only keep six in the elite squad, I have decided to move Aris back to the back-up squad. This is based on his overall performances last year and I think, six others did better than him.”
Holloway, however, said that both Rafiq and Aris would still have an equal chance to fight for places to this year’s major tournament – the World Championships in United States in August.
“No one in the elite squad is guaranteed of a place. Both elite and back-up will have to show consistent results to win a place,” he said.
On the status of the Special Squad, Holloway said that it was best to dissolve it.
“There is no point of having an additional squad now that we have reinstated the back-up squad,” he said.
While it is much easier to decide on the line-up for the men bowlers, Holloway said that it was tougher to classify the women bowlers because of their equal stature and achievements.
“I have a big pool of bowlers in the women’s team and their quality of performances last year was very close. I am still reviewing their status,” he added.
Currently, those in the elite squad are Esther Cheah, Shalin Zulkifli, Jacqueline, Sin Li Jane, Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, Jacqueline Sijore, Dayang Khairuniza Dhiyana Abang Jamalidon, Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani, Siti Shazwani Ahmad Suhaimi, Hee Kar Yen, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi and Sharon Koh.
And one should not forget the upcoming star Victoria Chin from the Special Squad.
Holloway is expected to finalise the women’s squad by the end of this week.