Singapore Sports School has won its maiden National Youth Challenge combined title at Wyncity Bowl & Entertainment, Point Cook.
The 18th National Youth Challenge ran from Tuesday 14th to Thursday the 16th January 2020 at Wyncity for the second year in the row to help determine the best youth male and female teams for 2020.
After three days, the FIQ format event saw Singapore Sports School (SSS) claim their first combined title, their fourth female title and New South Wales their sixth male division title.
SSS is a specialised independent school in Singapore that offers an integrated sports and academic program for secondary and post-secondary students. The Singapore Sports School Bowling Academy boasts a 12-lane bowling centre that has various lane surfaces to prepare on.
In 2012, Singapore Sports School would accept invitation to partake in the National Youth Challenge. Since then, except 2014, the SSS would return to the National Youth Challenge every year and become a regular invited team for the challenge.
“The SSS athletes are so kind, caring, strong willed and humble” explained NSW representative Emily Johnston. “Their facilities are amazing and are able to have access to get great equipment and sponsorships. They all have one goal – of doing well for their school and country”.
“Singapore Sports School are formidable opponent every year” explained NSW head coach Geoff Bowness. “A totally different life style both in education and sporting endeavours makes them really good on the lanes. We are lucky to have them in our competition”.
Speak to anyone marked with the task of competing against the Singapore team and glowing endorsements of their character are one common thing you hear.
“I’ve never met a single one that is rude or mean, even if you beat them they congratulate you the first moment they see you” described Emily Johnston. “I think the Australian bowling community could look to them as an example of how to treat people both on and off the lanes”.
On the three days, teams would partake in singles, doubles, teams and all events competitions for medals and points.
The Youth Cup battle between Queenslander Chloe Jones and Althea Dang from Singapore Sports School continued into the first event of the challenge. After Jones was victorious in the cup event, Dang returned fire by edging out Jones by 21 pins (1258-1237) in the six games to claim the first gold medal for the challenge. The SSS team would indicate early that they were out for medals. SSS rep, Jerlyn Lam would claim bronze from her other teammate Shirlene Wong giving SSS three of the top four positions and points. The early performance would set the tone for the next three days.
Nearly mirroring the females, the boys Youth Cup champion Callum Borck (TAS) and George Yin (SSS) again featured in the first challenge event. Again, Borck would edge Yin but this time Borck would have to settle for silver and Yin the bronze. The gold medal would go to Singaporean Gerald Teng. A 289 third game and an average of 225.8 over six was enough to solidify another two top three placings for the SSS team.
A dominating performance by the SSS team in the singles event gave the SSS pole position on all three of the tables at the conclusion of day one.
Evidence of a tight tussle was apparent with the difference between first and sixth being 37 pins. The first team, Tasmania.
The pairing of draftees Callum Borck and Bevan Brooke winning gold with a 2,572 pinfall. The Youth Cup champion would continue his hot streak averaging 224.3 for the day while his Junior National Training Squad team mate Brooke would average 204.3.
The hard working junior Brooke was excited to pair up with the hot streaking Borck. “When we were told our pairing I thought we were a real chance but in saying that both doubles teams for Tassie were a real chance” said Brooke. “My key for success was communication within the team, keeping clam, staying in the moment and making spares”.
The team from Tasmania would edge out NSW’s pairing of Jordan Dinham and William Clark by 6 pins who would win silver. 8 pins behind the blues came the team from the Australian Capital Territory. The ACT pairing featuring Kyle Annetts and draftee Jackson Botham who would win bronze. Cameron Stein would star for the day with the highest day average of 229.
SSS would remain on top of the male point score table with 381 points. Tasmania (348), Victoria (330) and New South Wales (329), all within striking distance for a last day comeback.
It was Groundhog Day for the females. After finishing first and third the previous day, the SSS team joined the singles event gold and bronze forces together – pairing Althea Dang and Shirlene Wong.
Out of the gates, Wong would bowl a 273 in the first game proving the previous day was no fluke. Over the six games, the SSS pair would average 216 (Wong) and 217.3 (Dang), the highest day averages for the females.
In a Youth Challenge record performance, the SSS team bowled a total team pinfall of 2,600, surpassing the previous record of 2,598 held by ACT (Amy Shoesmith & Jodie Kos) achieved in 2018. An incredible performance by Dang and Wong who are 16 and 15 years old, pointing to the talent that the SSS boasts.
The SSS performance would add another gold medal to the collection, winning by 237 pins over silver medallists – Queensland. The maroons pairing of Chloe Jones and Ivy Dickinson would also have a hot start with a combined 484 game one score but couldn’t quite replicate the success in the following games. Rounding out the medals, New Zealand. The second invitational team would win bronze with Paige Knox and Dayna Haylock claiming the countries first medal for 2020.
The SSS team would remain steady on top of the female point score table at the end of day two with 410 points. NSW (349) and QLD (334), the two teams that still would hold out hope to catch the hot team from Singapore. The combined ladder told a similar story with Singapore, NSW, and QLD holding the top three places.
The last day of the challenge would see teams join the lanes together to conclude the three day event. Would anyone be able to knock over the SSS team that had dominated in the first two days? With 160 points up for grabs for the gold medallists, there was every chance.
After the SSS team would dominate for the first two days, the team from NSW would be the one to prevent another gold medal to the SSS.
The team featuring– Emily Johnston, Emma Stephens, Jacinta Caddy and Emma Scott would bowl 4,678 pinfall, a score that claimed the gold by 100 pins over the SSS team who would have to settle for silver. The bronze medal would go to Victoria, their first for the challenge.
The win for NSW was not enough to topple the leading SSS who would win their fourth female division title in the history of the challenge. They may have missed out on the title, but the NSW team would do the next best thing in their eyes and that was to leapfrog the maroons to silver medal position with QLD finishing in third place.
“Those who were there can agree that we got really into it game one, frame one. We gained such a close connection through the week and everything just clicked” said Emma Stephens.
A close connection to your team throughout a week of a challenge is a common occurrence, especially if you win a medal. In this instance, a car accident on New Year’s helped form an even stronger bond between the team.
On New Year’s Day, NSW youth bowler Kiara Clark and her father, NSW assistant coach Ashley Clark were involved in a car accident that would sideline both the regular members for the 2020 challenge.
“They found it very hard not to be down there with us but they were definitely proud of us” said Emily Johnston. “At the dinner after we got our medals, Geoff and Jacinta (Kiara’s replacement) called her and the two girls were both crying with how much it meant to both of them to win. For Kiara it was hard to see someone wearing her shirt, bowling where she should have been, but she only hoped it didn’t split the team or distract us and such. She was so proud of Jacinta and Jacinta only wanted to do her proud and do well in her honour”.
Sitting in fourth and 51 points behind leaders SSS at the end of day two, New South Wales made a statement on day three. The blues team of Jordan Dinham, Jamie Robinson, William Clark and Nixon Chan would win the gold medal for the team’s event, providing NSW with the double gold.
A performance spurred on by the previous day performance in doubles.
“Coming in to Wyncity bowl on the last day, I was full of optimism mainly because of what happened the previous day when Will and I got the silver medal for Male Doubles event” explained 2019 Junior and Youth number one ranked bowler in the country, Jordan Dinham.
Dinham and Chan would average 209.2 each to help guide the blues to a pinfall of 4,849 and capturing the maximum 160 points. The highlight being a second game of a whopping pinfall of 891 with the lowest of the four scores being 216.
“The morning session gave us a good lead. We all bowled well – it actually exceeded our expectations” said Dinham. “Our team has a very good chemistry. We are all calm even in times of pressure so I think this helped us a lot. Going in to the last game, we were leading VIC team by 50+ pins. We can see that they started off well as a team – a stark contrast from us. We didn’t let this worry us and instead gave us more motivation to focus on our shots. This mindset made us bowl better in the second half of the game”.
The silver and bronze winners would make things even more interesting for the blues.
In second place, Victoria would win their second lot of medals for the challenge with Daniel Perrella averaging 212.8. Queensland would win the bronze medal aided by NTS bowlers Cameron Stein (209.8) and Jesse Ellis (204). The bronze shutting out SSS from a podium finish for the first time in the challenge with the team settling for fourth position.
“The last day was absolutely surreal, it felt amazing to win the teams event which is always the medal that everyone strives to get at the end of the tournament” said Will Clark.
The team result having a domino effect in the male division overall standings.
New South Wales would jump from fourth to first and claim their sixth male division title in the history of the challenge. In second place, SSS would claim silver with Victoria the bronze medallists.
Combined, Singapore Sports School would not be denied and would win their first ever combined title in the National Youth Team Challenge. New South Wales would win silver with Queensland rounding out the medals with bronze.
New South Wales head coach Geoff Bowness has been coaching the state at Youth challenges for eight years. Something about the challenge keeps bringing the coach back for more.
“The National Youth Team Challenge is arguable one of the best events hosted in Australia for any number of reasons” shared Bowness. “The fostering of “team,” friendships and competitiveness to be the best person you can be in a format of international standards can never be over looked”.
Congratulations to Singapore Sports School and New South Wales for winning the 2020 National Youth Challenge titles. Thank you to all of this year’s participants and Wyncity Bowl & Entertainment for another successful Youth carnival.
Major Team Award Winners
- National Youth Challenge Combined Champion – Singapore Sports School
- National Youth Challenge Female Division Champion – Singapore Sports School
- National Youth Challenge Male Division Champion – New South Wales
All Stars Male
- Callum Borck (TAS)
- Gerald Teng (SSS)
- Cameron Stein (QLD)
- Jordan Dinham (NSW)
All Stars Female
- Althea Dang (SSS)
- Chloe Jones (QLD)
- Shirlene Wong (SSS)
- Emily Johnston (NSW)