PARA-BOWLING coach Steven Teng has revealed that some of his bowlers in the B9 category (disability in lower half of body) can put to shame able-bodied professional keglers on the lanes.
“My B9 bowlers have posted perfect games before. The most recent was achieved by Abu Bakar Nya in training last month,” Steven told Timesporttoday.
“However, para-bowlers do not post perfect scores regularly as compared to able-bodied keglers.”
Steven has picked 28 bowlers for the Asean Para Games where the target is to win 13 out of the 18 gold medals on offer.
The event is scheduled at Sunway Mega Lanes in Bandar Sunway on Sept 19-22.
The events are based on the athletes’ disability – B1-B3 (visually impaired), B4 (intellectual disability), B8 (spinal cord injury or wheelchair), B9 (able to stand but disability in lower half) and B10 (able to stand but disability in upper half).
Steven, who is from Kuala Lumpur, had also coached able-bodied bowlers in the past.
He was part of the coaching set-up under national trainer Holloway Cheah to oversee the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) special squad in 2011-12 where he used to coach current national bowlers Rafiq Ismail, Timmy Tan and Victoria Chin.
He was re-designated to the national junior squad in 2013-15, before he left to oversee the national para-bowlers.
“I have been coaching para-bowlers on-and-off since 2001. We have the best para-bowlers in this region. In the 2015 edition in Singapore, we won eight of 14 gold medals on offer,” Steven said.
“For the B1 category, our athletes must post an average of 135 pins over six games for gold medals.
“The winning average for B2 and B3 categories is between 180 and 200 pins, while in B4, a bowler must post about 190 pins for titles.
“In the B8 category, the gold medal averages for men and women are 170 and 150 pins, respectively, while those in B9 and B10 must score above 200 pins,” said the 53-year-old coach.
Steven said he uses the standard MTBC training manual for able-bodied athletes as a guide to coach his para-bowlers.
“It is very challenging to coach a B1 bowler as they are blind. When they bowl, they will have sighted guides to assist them during games.
“There are also makeshift guide rails along the approach area just before the lanes for the athletes. B1 bowlers are advised to release the ball between pin one and six to get good scores.
“Partially impaired B2 and B3 bowlers have sighted guides to assist them.”
Steven expects seven gold medals to come from athletes in the B8-B9 categories with five from B1-B3 and one from B4.
Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines are also competing for honours in the para-bowling competition.
“The para-bowlers have been training at Sunway Mega Lanes since April. They are ready in term of game approach, but I fear that they may become nervous bowling in front of local fans.
“The pressure and attention may affect them. We are doing a lot of psychological work to help our bowlers,” said Steven, who will be assisted by Foong Tat Meng, Jackson Ting, Richard Teh and Dzulkarnain Sapian during the Asean Para Games.