TeamSG Bowler Ismail ready for more after inspiring Manila performance
22 May 2018
By Wong Jeng Teng
After more than seven years of representing the country and winning four ASEAN Para Games gold medals, TeamSG Bowler Mohamed Ismail Bin Hussain took part in his first international able-bodied competition earlier this month, and the experience left him eager for more.
Ismail (pictured) won the Gold in the Mixed Singles TP3 event at the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in KL. Photo: Alfie Lee / SportSG
The 34-year-old, who usually bowls under the TPB3 category for the visually-impaired, was at the PBF 2nd Philippine International Open 2018 in Manila, where he competed against able-bodied bowlers for the first time in his sporting career.
With Ismail preparing for upcoming major events such as the 2018 Asian Para Games, the Manila competition was part of a bigger plan.
“The plan for me to take part together with the able-bodied [athletes] was actually to test my mental strength. so that when I bowl on the bigger stage in para-competitions, I won’t feel [too] pressured,” he said.
Despite having encountered a fair share of able-bodied bowlers in local bowling leagues, he was caught off guard by how quickly things unfolded on the day of the competition.
“Normally, we have five to ten minutes of practice before we even start [competing]. During that first 10 minutes [at the PBF 2nd Philippine International Open 2018], I was already losing my breath because the pace was very fast!” Ismail revealed.
“In para sports, due to the [different] disabilities, [we] need some time to find the ball, look, and stand, and [it] will take a much longer time, but for able-bodied bowlers, they’ll just take the ball, step on, and go,” he described.
Thankfully, Ismail managed to get used to the faster pace by the third day of the week-long event, eventually even making it into the finals, which saw him compete against the top 24 out of the original 60 participants.
“I was just there to do my best and I managed to enter the finals, so I think that was a significant achievement for me,” Ismail stated.
He continued: “It was a wonderful experience in many ways. I’ve never even imagined that I could bowl in an international competition with the able-bodied, because I always felt that I’m still far from their standards.”
However, the recent experience in Manila has helped Ismail realise that visual impairment would not get in the way of a potential bowling career.
“After bowling with the able-bodied, I felt that the only difference is [our] skills, and if you really train hard, you can bowl alongside them,” he pointed out.
He revealed that his coach, affectionately known to him as Coach Adam, had played a significant role in building up that mindset as well.
“Coach Adam always tells me, you are no different from them. You are all bowlers, you all have the same skills, [and] maybe the difference is in the skill level. He always encourages me to not think that I’m disabled and not on par with them,” said Ismail, who added that the pair had only started working together over a month ago, on the back of the spexScholarship Programme.
Ismail (right) with Coach Adam (left) during training
Empowered by his experience in Manila, and with the support of the Singapore Disability Sports Council as well as the Bowling Association for the Disabled (Singapore), Ismail will be headed for his second able-bodied competition in Hong Kong next month (44th Hong Kong International Open from 22-30 June), after which his focus will be on the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia this October.
“I’m still working on many things, but I’d say [my] mental strength [has] definitely improved. When I go to Hong Kong, I hope it can [be] strengthened further,” he shared.
As Ismail continues to challenge the limits in his bowling journey, let us cheer him on as #OneTeamSG! Follow us on the Team Singapore Facebook page and website to stay updated on our athletes!