Australia’s youth team will head to Malaysia next week for the 20th Asian Youth Championships which begins on Friday at Megalanes Sarawak in Kuching.
The biennial event which attracts the best youth bowlers from the Asian zone will see competitors from over 15 countries compete over seven days for medals in singles, doubles, teams, All Events and Masters competitions.
When the Australian team gathers on Tuesday for unofficial practice, head coach Rob Alexander who will be joined by assistant coach Hayden George will be focusing on acclimatising to the local conditions and the job lays ahead.
“Get use to the different surroundings and get use to the lanes. We need to be confident. We proved last year (World Youth Championships) that we are good enough to compete against the best and we have a good team so we just need to give it a good shot. They have all been practising well but we will need to get use to the different surroundings and lanes when unofficial practice begins” Alexander said.
With two days of unofficial practice, official competition will get underway onFriday with the singles competitions and the Australian’s will draw on their experience both overseas and at the Megalanes centre. Having claimed silver at the 2017 Asian Schools Championships held in the same venue, Chloe Jones and Kylie Bailey will have fond memories and knowledge of the lanes when the action begins. The medal winning duo will also be joined by Callum Borck and Trent Webber who were also part of the 2017 Asian Schools team which competed at the 42 lane centre and where Borck claimed a gold medal in the doubles event.
The team will also be bouyed by the inclusion of Ivy Dickinson, Will Clark, and Kyle Annetts who represented Australia at the 2018 Asian Schools Championships in Chinese Taipei and where Dickinson claimed two silver medals in the doubles and team events.
Team rookie, Emma Stephens will also join the experienced contingent following consistent performances on the national circuit. The NSW bowler who will celebrate her 20th birthday at the tournament will realise a lifelong dream when she pulls on the green and gold for the first time.
“It was a really good feeling, (when I was selected) I actually cried. Now it is so close it’s a bit surreal” Stephens said.
“Finally, putting on the green and gold will be great. I am feeling pretty good. I just want to go over there and bowl and have fun and hopefully come home with some medals.”
With lane conditions playing a crucial role in success at international events, Alexander said the team has taken a look at the medium and long pattern released by the Asian Bowling Federation (ABF) and are confident but the veteran coach who steered the team to medals at the World Youth Championships in Detroit last year, knows how strong the powerhouse Asian countries are.
“It will be tough but it will be scorable. You will be able to post some decent scores. But the competition will be a step up from Asian Schools and the usual countries like Korea will be tough. Singapore will be another. But at home the Malaysians will be hard to beat” Alexander added.