SINGAPORE – In a sport where games can last for up to three hours, patience is a virtue for lawn bowlers like Amira Goh.
It is a skill that Goh has also had to harness to make it to her first Commonwealth Games, a dream that has taken 20 years to materialise.
After an impressive outing by the lawn bowlers at the 2001 SEA Games in Malaysia, which saw her bag a bronze medal with teammates Margaret Lim, Lee Beng Hua and Wendy Chua in the women’s four event, they harboured hopes of being selected for the Manchester Commonwealth Games the following year.
But that did not happen and work commitments led to Goh stepping down from the national team shortly after, before she made a comeback in 2017.
Two years later, Goh, Lim and their teammate Shermeen Lim struck gold at the 2019 SEA Games, the Republic’s first since 1999, but endured a wait to see if they would be selected for the Commonwealth Games as the pandemic hit. To their relief, they were among the 67 athletes who were selected for the trip to Birmingham.
For Goh and Co, it is a major milestone because the sport is not on the Olympic programme. The quadrennial Commonwealth Games are thus the biggest multi-sport event in lawn bowls.
The 63-year-old said: “After we got the gold at the 2019 SEA Games, everyone said it represented a good chance to go for the Commonwealth Games. That’s all we wanted, that was the ultimate thing that we wanted: to go to the Commonwealth Games after missing out the last time.
“We said, ‘Let’s just pray hard’ and then Covid came, after that nothing, no competitions until now. We are lucky in a way that SNOC (the Singapore National Olympic Council) and Sport Singapore decided to send us. If not, it would have been heartbreak again. It was a 20-year wait, it’s been so long. I’m happy that it turned out well.”
Now Goh is looking forward to competing in one of the biggest stages of her sporting career, which began in her teenage years.
Her love for sport began in the 1970s when she picked up hockey in secondary school. But growing up at a time when mindsets were conservative, she initially faced some resistance to pursuing the sport.
She recalled how it took some convincing from her grandmother, teacher and coach before her father finally relented and let her go on a trip to India with the combined schools team.
That was the first of many overseas hockey trips to come for the forward, who went on to represent the Republic after being called up to the national team at 16, going for competitions such as the 1982 Asian Games, the first time that women’s hockey featured at the quadrennial tournament.