Singapore lawn bowler Philomena Goh claims joint-bronze at World Bowls Champion of Champions
When she found herself drawn with British opponents at last week’s World Bowls Champion of Champions tournament in Australia, Singapore’s Philomena Goh felt nervous initially.
The 64-year-old lawn bowler, who had previously played in pairs, triples or fours, was making her international debut in the singles event on the Gold Coast.
But she just focused on what she needed to do on the greens of the Robina Bowls Club. “I didn’t want to think too much about it and just concentrate on my own game, try to give them a good game. So it ended up well,” she said.
Not only did she beat players such as England’s Rebecca Moorbey, Wales’ Emma Gittins and South Africa’s Anna Christine Fourie in the opening ladder stage to finish second in her section of eight, but she also went on to defeat Australia’s top player Karen Murphy en route to a joint-third placing in the 26-strong field.
Her 5-5, 6-0, 3-3 win against Murphy in the quarter-finals was especially memorable as the 48-year-old home favourite was the 2013 champion and had also racked up multiple titles at the world championships and Commonwealth Games.
Goh said: “Beating somebody like Karen Murphy, it’s something that a lot of people dream about. By beating her means getting a medal, that made it all the more special.”
But Goh lost 5-3, 7-4 to eventual champion Anne Nunes of the United States in the semi-finals. This earned her a joint-bronze along with Malaysia’s Nurul Alyani Jamil, who lost to Guernsey’s Lucy Beere in the other semi-final.
Anthony Loh, Singapore’s representative in the men’s category, did not progress from the ladder stage after finishing eighth in his section.
Bowls Singapore senior team coach Bernard Foo said Goh had played at her highest level in the competition, adding: “She really played to her best which I’ve not seen.
“Karen Murphy is a very senior, experienced and legendary player in Australia. Everybody who has played bowls will know her and that is her (Philomena’s) determination, to beat the best player in Australia.”
Goh felt that she was too hasty in her semi-final against Nunes, which proved costly. She said: “The first time going through such a big game, I did not do the kind of things that I was supposed to do, like staying a bit calmer.
“Maybe I tried too hard, I think she got on my nerves. This all comes with a bit more experience playing the big games. Hopefully it won’t happen in the future.”
Despite missing out on the final, Goh still has much to cheer about as she added another medal to her collection. Goh, who was previously known as Amira, had started competitive lawn bowling in 2000, earning a SEA Games bronze in the women’s fours event in 2001, before leaving the sport for 16 years, citing “politics”.
But she made a comeback in 2017 and won a SEA Games gold in the triples event two years later with Shermeen Lim and Margaret Lim. The trio went on to represent the Republic at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where they finished fourth in their five-team group.
When asked if she sees herself playing more singles events in future, Goh left it to her coach.
Foo believes that she has what it takes to continue competing in the singles event, saying: “She was not a singles player but this year she did well and from this win she knows that she can be a singles player.”
With her confidence boosted by a bronze medal on her singles debut, Goh hopes to achieve more.
She said: “I hope that I can carry on winning, with this (bronze medal) in hand and hoping that maybe bowls will grow a bit more in Singapore, improve the game and let the game be more popular.”