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Pins, and tears, fall at bowling’s Singapore Open

The Philippines' Zack Sales Ramin (above) won the men's stepladder final against Thailand's Yannaphon Lapapharat. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

SINGAPORE – Bowling pins were not the only things that were falling at the 53rd Singapore Open on Saturday as Zach Sales Ramin of the Philippines and Malaysia’s Sin Li Jane were crowned men’s and women’s champions respectively.

There were also tears aplenty, after Zach, 17, emerged as a shock winner at the Singapore Bowling @ Rifle Range at Temasek Club. The teenager beat top seed Yannaphon Larpapharat of Thailand 189-183, 229-212 in the stepladder final to claim the trophy and winner’s cheque of $25,000. After clinching the win, he went straight to his mother Grace Ramin as the duo shared an emotional embrace.

Zach, a Singapore permanent resident who moved here from the Philippines when he was three, is captain of the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) bowling team. At the National School Games in May, he won the A Division singles, all events and quartet.

“I can’t quite believe it. I never expected to win and in fact even though I have already been presented with the trophy and winners’ cheque, I am still in disbelief,” said the bowler, who was making his debut at the Singapore Open.

Born in Manila, his love for the sport began as a nine-year-old when he saw a bowling centre while on holiday in Japan. When he returned to Singapore, he pestered his parents to let him try his hand at it. Today, he spends five days a week in training with Singapore-based Strike Academy.

After this breakthrough win, Zach – who will enlist for national service in 2024 – plans to win “all the big titles”.

He added: “I don’t want to say that I am talented. I know I have worked hard for this. This is a real eye opener for me that I can do stuff like this and that’s very important for me.”

Saturday’s women’s stepladder final was also an emotional one for Sin, who claimed her fourth Singapore Open title after beating local bowler Shirlene Wong 227-193, 195-178. The Malaysian’s triumph also ended a run of three consecutive wins for Singaporean women at tournament.

Wiping away tears after her win, Sin said: “It reminded me of how good it can feel. With three years of Covid, it took away a lot of our time. It feels good to be back. This is the fourth time and it is always difficult to repeat wins and it has been a long time since I won here.”

For 18-year-old Wong, getting to her first stepladder final was an achievement. While former champions Jazreel Tan, Cherie Tan and Bernice Lim, who won the titles in 2018, 2022 and 2019 respectively, did not make the cut for the second round, Wong surprised everyone by qualifying for the final as the top seed.

She said: “There was an element of surprise for sure because I was up against a lot of seniors. But I felt I bowled well and focused on my own game. I have built up a lot of confidence that I didn’t have before with this run. This was an eye-opening experience to go up against so many international bowlers.”

A total of 725 participants from 14 countries competed across all divisions in the 53th edition of the tournament.

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