HK focus on singles challenge
Local bowlers will be out to recapture singles glory at the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic, which takes place over the weekend.
Hong Kong have not won the men's singles competition since 1994 when Noel Kennedy took the title.
First-round competition takes place in three venues today - Hong Kong Football Club, Indian Recreation Club and Craigengower Cricket Club. Tomorrow's singles finals for men and women will be held at the Craigengower club.
With England's two-time defending Classic singles champion Mark Walton skipping the tournament to concentrate on Europe's indoor season, the singles competition has an open look - and that could open the way for Hong Kong bowlers to shine.
They will be pinning their hopes on 23-year-old Ken Chan Ken-che, who reached the Classic singles semi-finals in 2006, but was a Classic pairs champion with Kennedy in 2007. This year, Chan has concentrated on singles and begins his campaign by taking on mainlander Li Qing. Hong Kong's Heron Lau Hui-ngong, who was beaten by New Zealand's Paul Girdler in the 2005 final, will also be competing.
Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association president Vincent Cheung Yuk-fung believes it could be Chan's year.
'Ken is very much in form and determined to win the singles title. He's a more settled player and he's more mature,' Cheung said.
'Overall, Hong Kong have always done well and we expect three or four players to reach the last 16 or even the quarter-finals in men's singles,' he added.
Malaysia's world number one Safuan Said and Leif Selby, the world number two from Australia, are among the favourites, while Scotland's Margaret Letham will be out to defend her women's singles title.
Top bowlers from Australia, Canada, China, England, Ireland, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Scotland, Wales as well as Hong Kong are taking part in the tournament that was first run in 1981.