Shalin: Opponents still fear me By Arnaz M. Khairul

    12/02/06

    Malaysia

    Republished courtesy of New Straits Times (Nov. 30, 2006)

    Shalin_Zulkifli_4297.jpg 2006AsianGamesLogo.jpg Shalin Zulkifli is back in the groove and sees her presence as making a major difference in the women's team, who are out to win the gold in their event, and she could also be eyeing a strong defence of her women's Masters gold.

    Shalin, recently embroiled in controversy over her part in the national team, has firmly insisted that the episode is behind her and is now looking at proving herself and is itching for action despite rumours that the Qatar Bowling Centre wasn't quite ready for competition.

    "People were thinking, especially our opponents, that the team was weaker without me, which is actually not a good thing. The team is not just about me. That happened. In some competitions, when people saw that I was not there, their confidence rose, thinking it would be easy to beat Malaysia," said Shalin.

    "But now that I'm back in the team, there is a bit of fear among the other teams. In a sense, it has also raised people's expectations of our team. Having said that, my expectations on myself are also high and the team's confidence is also up."

    And at 28, the pressure to deliver is something the former Asian Bowler of The Year has got used to and the focus of the entire team leading up to the Asian Games bowling competition, which begins with the women's singles event on Monday, is on relaxation.

    "If I was new here, I would have felt the pressure, but now it's the same as any big competition. If you ask me, I think I felt more pressure in Busan four years ago, than I do now. Back then, I started off badly and in the final event, the women's Masters, I got the gold," said Shalin.

    "In bowling, we have six events, so if you fail in the first one, you can come back stronger the next day. But this time around, I want to be bowling my best from the start."

    Malaysia will start as favourites to win the women's team event, the one that the National Sports Council (NSC) has targeted a gold medal in. But the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) has indicated that they could be going for more.