Global bowler Rafiq Ismail takes World Championship postponement with mixed feelings.

At the young age of 6, Rafiq Ismail began bowling and first caught the attention of national selectors when he was bowling in the equivalent of a young talent hunt competition called the “Peter Yap Memorial Cup” during the Malaysia National Championship. He was already on the MTBC (Malaysia Tenpin Bowling Congress) radar from there, and when the Special Program Squad was formed in 2010; the 12-year-old Rafiq was instantly roped in.

The Special Program Team, provided by the national body itself and supported by DV8, launched their rigorous training under the chief coach, Holloway Cheah, and bore its fruits one year later. 

At a tender age of 13, Rafiq won the MILO All Stars adult division in 2011 and went on to win the coveted 2012 MILO International Junior All Stars Boys Open award. From there on, all the systems go for this brilliant young bowler; whose original goal was to represent the country (which he did when he was 14).

His vision now is to win honors at Asian and world level for the nation and, of course, to be the first Malaysian to win a PBA.

But here’s what happened while he’s into it, In October of next year, the world conference in Kuwait was shelved until October 2022, after a World Bowling calendar reshuffle due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world body agreed to delay the tournament by one year because it coincides with another major event, in March next year’s Qubica AMF World Cup. In fact, Rafiq was the top player in Malaysia at the last Hong Kong world championships two years ago. He finished the nation’s 39-year wait for a world title by throwing down the gold singles before teaming up to take the doubles with Adrian Ang and the debutant Tun Ameerul Hakim Tun Hasnul Azam.

Rafiq and Adrian-Ameerul winning gold were Malaysia’s first second and third gold in the history of the world championships. Since J.B Koo, Allan Hooi and Edward Lim triumphed in the trios to hand over the country’s first ever gold in the 1979 men’s competition in Manila, Malaysia has not experienced success in the world meet.

The next world congress will be a mixed men’s version and women’s tournaments.

Shalin Zulkifli, Sin Li Jane, Esther Cheah, Syaidatul Afifah Badrul Hamidi, Natasha Roslan and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman captured the women’s team title for the third time after Kuala Lumpur in 2003 and Monterrey in 2007.

Nevertheless, the team struggled to defend their title and returned empty-handed from the Women’s World Championships that took place in Las Vegas last year.

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