Tuesday, November 23, 2010

16th Asian Games 2010: Iceman Alex Liew

JUST few months ago, Alex Liew was contemplating retirement from competitive bowling and the final decision was to be made after the Asian Games.

But it looks like the 34-year-old will soldier on after earning his second gold medal -- the All Events -- at the Tianhe Bowling Hall yesterday.

Yesterday's victory means Alex has achieved a milestone in the men's competition as he is the only Malaysian to win two gold medals in the men's competition of the Asian Games.

Alex and Adrian Ang won the doubles gold last Wednesday.

The former Asian No 1 was not even focused on where he stood in the All Events yesterday as his prime goal was to help Malaysia win the team gold.

However, the team fell short, settling for silver after failing to strike out in the final few frames of the sixth game.

Alex, who is married with an eight-year-old daughter, was at one stage not even in contention for the All Events title as he was seventh after the trios event.

But a blazing performance in Sunday's team first block moved him up to third before another impressive performance in the second block yesterday earned him the gold medal.

Alex, also a former Asian champion, garnered a combined 24-game total of 5,448 (1,354-singles; 1,339-doubles; 1,330-trio, 1,425-team) pinfalls, averaging 227, to edge South Korea's Choi Yong Kyu by just seven pins for the title while Choi Bok Eum earned bronze with 5,431.

"I am delighted to have my first ever All Events title after representing the nation for over a decade. But I'm sad that we failed to nail the team event," said Alex.

"I did not win medals in my previous three Asian Games outings and earning two gold and one silver here is something I will cherish forever.

"However, I would not have done it if not for the coaches, who helped me get my groove back. I just bowled here the way I was taught in training."

Alex, who had the word 'ICE' stamped on his forearm during competition, finally revealed the meaning of it yesterday.

"The letter I stands for intelligence', C for control, calmness and commitment and E for energy.

"The word has helped us a lot here. It was Fred Tan's (psychologist) idea to stamp the word on our forearms. It has worked wonders," he said.

Malaysia, however, were unlucky in the team event, as they were leading by over 100 pins after the completion of the second game yesterday.

But their game fell slightly apart when they shifted lanes for the final frame.

The lanes, where Korea and Kuwait had bowled on earlier, were dry and a little rough.

Alex and Muhd Nur Aiman, who are both left-handed, failed to get their groove with Nur Aiman faring the worst as he had four open frames.

"We were forced to make changes after we found that the lanes were dry but we failed to adapt to it," said Alex.

Korea, anchored by Jang Dong Chul, finished with the gold medal with a 6,654 total, ahead of Adrian, Syafiq Ridhwan, Alex, Nur Aiman and Aaron Kong by 75 pins.

Hong Kong, led by Mak Cheuk Yin earned bronze with a 6,475 series.

National coach Holloway Cheah, however, praised the bowlers for giving a good account of themselves despite losing the team gold.

"They fought until the last frame. Nur Aiman recovered well after the four open frames by posting strikes and we still stood a chance then. But the Koreans were just too good," he said.

Holloway, who turns 68 next week, wants Alex to turn on his magic again in the two-day Masters event, which starts today.

"Alex has proven to everyone that he is the best left-handed bowler in this competition. It is a big honour as he is bowling against some of the best left-handed bowlers in the world. Anything can happen for Alex in the Masters if he keeps his focus," said Holloway.

Aaron Kong, a former world junior champion, will be the other Malaysian competing in the Masters.

The 25-year-old finished fifth with a 5,330 series in the All Events.

*Taken from NST Online

**To get Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games' Medal Tally, click here.

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