Three-gold medallist Zatil Iman gets to go places now
SEA Games rookie Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani (pic) is right up the alley to become a household name following her golden exploits in the bowling competitions held in Bangkok.
National chief coach Holloway Cheah will recommend the back-up bowler to be promoted into the elite squad next year. This means that she will feature in all the major tournaments assigned to the team.
The emergence of the 18-year-old Zatil, who won three gold medals – in the doubles (with Esther Cheah), trios (with Esther and Shalin Zulkifli) and the five-woman team (with Esther, Shalin, Sharon Koh and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman) – is certainly timely.
Zatil has proved to be the right candidate to make up for the absence of Esther, who is pursuing her studies in the United States.
Esther took time off from her two-year studies to help Malaysia in the SEA Games but her services for future major events will depend very much on her availability and school schedule.
Holloway agreed that Zatil’s breakthrough on the international stage was timely.
“She bowled as though she had competed in several Games. She hardly showed any nerves. In fact, she combined well with our seniors to win honours for our country.
“I will propose that she be considered for the elite team. She has been consistent over the last two months,” said Holloway.
Zatil won her first senior title at the Singapore Open two months ago and the success won her a place in the Games squad.
And she justified the selection at the Asian Indoor Games in Macau last month. In the company of strong South Korean bowlers, she stood up to the challenge to win the silver in the singles.
At the SEA Games, there were fears of a meltdown by the women’s team in the absence of two seasoned campaigners – Wendy Chai and Choy Poh Lai. But youngster Zatil did not let it happen.
Holloway also gave due credit to two other first timers – Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman and Adrian Ang.
“I had my fears and doubts. Siti and Adrian had done well at a very young age but they had not lived up to my expectations in some of the major tournaments. They tend to crumble under pressure. But this time, they did not choke. I am happy with their breakthrough here,” he added.
The 17-year-old Siti won a bronze in the doubles with Shalin and played a big hand in helping Malaysia retain the five-woman team title. Adrian, 20, also rose to the occasion to win a bronze in the trios and silver in the team events.
The Malaysians met the target set for them in winning four of the 11 golds at stake. And for the very first time, both the men’s and women’s teams had a medal to show in every event they contested in the Games