Champs show class in Warilla decider
Australia’s three-year reign in the men’s singles at the World Cup is over, while Siti Zalina Ahmad became the first Malaysian woman to win the crown following scintillating finals at Warilla yesterday, Mike Driscoll reports for the Illawarra Mercury .
With a beaming smile and arrow-like accuracy Ahmad became Malaysia’s first female winner in the Cup’s 11 years following a brilliant 11-4, 12-5 win over Scotland’s Julie Forrest in Thursday’s final.
Scotland’s Iain McLean showed his mastery in the mens singles, beating Australian David Holt 9-4, 6-6 in the decider, after earlier on Thursday coming from a set down to beat Guernsey’s Todd Priaulx 6-10, 11-6, 4-0 in the semi-finals.
It was McLean’s second world title in 12 months after winning the World Champion of Champions in Christchurch last year.
Defending World Cup champion Jeremy Henry was chasing a fourth straight title but was edged out by the St Johns Park-based Holt in a high quality semi-final on Wednesday.
But McLean was the standout for the full nine days of the tournament – dropping just one match to Priaulx in their sectional round – and after winning the first set of the final 9-4 – then withstood a desperate Holt in the second set to tie it 6-6 and take the title.
Meanwhile Ahmad, the Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist in 2002 and 2006, played near flawless draw bowls to thrill the large crowd who packed around the indoor rink.
Such was the precision of her bowls that Forrest jokingly offered her own bowl to her rival in a lighter moment late in the second set.
In her fourth appearance at the World Cup, an emotional Ahmad described the win as one of the most treasured of her illustrious career.
“I have been trying so hard for this, it is awesome,” she said.
“I feel it is right up there in my best days ever. I cannot describe how happy I am; it is a wonderful feeling.”
Ahmad dominated the first set, though Forrest made a brief rally with the second set locked at 5-5 after five ends.
But Ahmad then peppered the jack and picked up a four on the sixth end, a two on the seventh and a single on the eighth end to claim the title.
“I’m not sure anyone would have beaten Lina today,’’ Forrest, a four-time world indoor champion, said afterwards.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t play a great match but sometimes you can only play as well as your opponent allows and she was too good.”
Forrest upset world number one Jo Edwards 3-10, 8-7, 5-0 in the semi-finals, reversing a loss in the opening round.
It was Edwards’ only defeat of the tournament and ended the New Zealander’s bid for a fifth World Cup title in seven years.
Ahmad beat Australian teenager Jamie-Lee Worsnop 7-4, 11-5 in their semi-final, with 18-year-old Worsnop having shown in her six earlier wins the talent that made her the youngest male or female winner of the Australian Indoor Championships last August at Tweed Heads.
Ahmad joined 2008 men’s champion Safuan Said in taking the title for Malaysia, while McLean is Scotland’s second mens winner, with Neil Speirs the champion in 2006.