World No 1 chases Ballina title
BOWLERS beware! The champ is in town.
Malaysian world No 1 lawn bowler Safuan Said is in Ballina for the Wintersun Singles this weekend – and he plans on collecting the title.
The 27-year-old king of the greens knows he has some stiff opposition to overcome in the $8500 tournament but he is here to win.
“There are many big names here in this tournament,” Said said.
“But of course I want to win – everyone who gets into any competition wants to win.”
Standing between Said and the booty is a host of bowling stars from up and down the east coast – and one from the United States.
Summerland Singles winner Jamie Eichorn, 2009 NSW State champion Michael Anderson, and local legend Neil Burgess are among the pack which also contains American hot-shot Loren Dion.
Said doesn’t feel any extra pressure being ranked the best on the planet, but he knows his rivals will be gunning for him.
The 2008 World Cup gold medallist insists that no matter what his rivals know of him, they will never foresee his next move.
“I am unpredictable in bowls,” he said.
“Most experienced commentators, like Ian Schuback, try to predict what I might do next, but usually I do the opposite.
“I could do four drives in one end.”
Technically, Said stands as a peer to sportsmen such as Usain Bolt, Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, Stephanie Gilmore and Cadel Evans – all officially ranked the best in their sport worldwide.
But flanked by his national coach, Ariffin Ghani, and Malaysia’s No 3 woman bowler Zuraini Khalid, Said represents a golden pillar of humility and excellence.
And in a couple of months Said hopes to have a medal to match the colour of his shirt.
The Delhi Commonwealth Games are on the horizon, and with a bronze medal in the 2002 pairs his only reward from two trips to the Games, Said is keen to perform on the big stage.
“I hold three of the four world bowls titles but I want to win a Commonwealth gold,” he said.
“This tournament (Wintersun Singles) and the Golden Nugget (at Tweed Heads) are the warm- ups for the Commonwealth Games.”
Said is one of 16 Malaysian bowlers in the nation’s full-time elite squad.
These 16, along with two coaches, are supported by the Malaysian government to the point where bowls is their full-time occupation.
And while the team of three that is here for the Wintersun Singles might be doing it tough with their feet up in a beachfront motel at Ballina today, it will be all guns blazing when they hit the greens tomorrow.
First-round match-ups roll out at 9am tomorrow and continue through the day, with the quarter-finals (9am), the semi-finals (12.45pm) and the final (3.30pm) on Sunday.