Bowling for gold

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s national para bowlers have excelled on the international scene, garnering a series of podium finishes over the years and building a reputation as a force in major competitions both in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific.

The country’s undoubted talents have enjoyed significant progress following a proud collection of medals from the prestigious Asian Para Games and the ASEAN Para Games as well as a set of triumphs in the World Tour tournaments.

Brunei’s ascent in para bowling came in 2014 in the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea when they grabbed bronze in the mixed team event.

The trio of Muhammad Jamary bin Danggat, Kamarul Ariffin bin Haji Abdul Ghaffar and Saidin bin Haji Awang Damit was credited for helping with the country’s rise in para bowling in the continental scene.

With a diverse field of countries vying for honours, Brunei secured a podium finish behind eventual winners and gold medallists South Korea and silver medallists Chinese Taipei.

The national para bowling team. PHOTO: FADHIL YUNUS

Having enjoyed a breakthrough in the Asian Para Games, the para bowling team went to the Asean Para Games a year later filled with confidence as they looked to deliver gold and contribute to the country’s overall medal tally.

Since bowling was introduced as one of the sports in the Asean Para Games for the first time in Singapore in 2015, Brunei has consistently featured in the medals table.

In Singapore, Brunei made history with their first ever para bowling gold in the men’s doubles through the duo of Kamarul Ariffin and Saidin, both representing one-third of Brunei’s pioneers in para bowling.

The pair teamed up with Muhammad Jamary in the trios’ event where they took bronze. Saidin also secured bronze in the men’s singles as the country finished fourth in the overall medal tally for para bowling.

Brunei further asserted their dominance when the pairing of Kamarul Ariffin and Saidin completed the defence of their gold medal in the next edition of the Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur two years later.

The country also improved its medal haul in para bowling from the last edition after collecting one gold and three silver medals.

Kamarul Ariffin bagged silver in the men’s singles while the trios team upgraded their bronze from two years before to silver.

Brunei’s para bowlers enjoyed a perfect sweep of medals in all events after they grabbed silver in the team event, with Khairul Anuar Abdul Ghaffar the latest member to taste success in the regional scene.

The country’s marked improvement pinpointed further signs that the team is closing in on bringing home more than one gold medal.

After providing its credentials on the continental scene, Brunei embarked on a fresh challenge in the World Para Bowling Tour Series in Singapore in 2018.

The country enjoyed instant success after finishing third in the overall table with a haul of three gold medals, five silver medals and three bronze.

Amid fierce competition from hosts Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, Brunei emerged victorious as the excellent Kamarul Ariffin struck gold in the men’s singles event with his compatriot Saidin taking silver.

Buoyed by their successes in the singles event, Kamarul Ariffin and Saidin proved the quality of their partnership on the world stage with two golds in the doubles event.

The most recent success for the para bowling team was in the World Para Bowling Tour in Manila, the Philippines last year when they struck gold in the trios event.

The trio of Muhammad Jamary, Kamarul Ariffin and Saidin outlasted competitors from Malaysia and Japan, who claimed silver and bronze, respectively.

While the celebrated trio has proven their capabilities on the world scene, the country also brought another team that showed potential of finishing in the podium.

“There was another team in another category that almost made it to the podium,” said coach Pengiran Saiful Rizal bin Pengiran Haji Yunus in an interview with the Bulletin upon their return from Manila last year.

The coach also highlighted that the national para bowling team met their target of producing an excellent performance and making a podium finish.