IT was heartache all around for the Hong Kong tenpin bowlers at the Hiroden Bowling Alley as they saw the red carpet to the medal's rostrum whisked away from under them at the last minute. Heartache number one came in the afternoon when Franco Lau Kam-wah and Chung Him missed out in the men's doubles. More agony came when a bronze medal slipped the grasp of Catherine Che Kuk-hung and Choi Miu-chu in the women's doubles - by a mere three pins. Cat Che, who won a gold and silver medal at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, failed to add another one to her collection yesterday, despite being involved in a tense match where she picked up her game in the latter stages to lead a great fightback. Having started disastrously, Cat Che and Choi trailed for most of the game. But a late flurry saw them claw their way back into medal contention as they climbed steadily up from 13th position to sixth with one game to go. But dreams of a Hong Kong medal disappeared as Japan's Tomomi Shibata kept her nerve while teammate Naoko Sekine performed poorly. But Shibata's final round of 236 was enough to ward off the late Hong Kong challenge which finished on an overall score of 2,372, three pins behind Japan's 2,375. 'It couldn't have come any closer,' said a disappointed Cat Che afterwards, who finished way down the listings in the singles on Wednesday. The men's pairing of Franco Lau and Chung also ended on a sombre note. Lau, one of the most reliable tenpin bowlers in Hong Kong, could not have frozen at a worser moment than he did yesterday in the latter stages of the men's doubles with the territory merrily rolling towards a medal. The top performer amongst the territory's six-strong men's team in the singles on the opening day on Wednesday, Lau stumbled badly in his last two games to deprive Hong Kong of a certain medal. At one stage a silver was in sight, then a bronze. But as has happened on many an occasion in Hong Kong sporting history, the end result was nothing but heartache - and fifth place. The men's doubles featured 32 teams with the competition being split into two sessions. Lau and Chung Him were in the evening session. And they knew exactly what was required of them with teams from Japan, South Korea and Qatar having set Asian Games records in taking the top three positions with scores of 2,607, 2,527 and 2,501 respectively. They started superbly aggregating 416, 417, 437 and 439 in their first four games. The overall total of 1,709 saw Lau and Chung leading the 32 teams in the second session. With two more rounds left they were 898 points behind the Japanese leaders from the first session. With the Hong Kong duo averaging 427 points per game, they were well in sight of at least a silver medal as the Koreans were only 818 points in front. Lau, who scored 1,235 in the singles, suddenly went off the boil. The strikes which had been coming regularly, dried up and the bad run turned into a drought. On the other hand, Chung gamely kept on fighting. But it was to no avail. Having averaged 216 points till the end of the fourth game, Lau's scores of 169 and 166 were the death knell for the territory's medal hopes. He finished with an aggregate of 1,200. 'If I had scored what I did in the singles, we would have easily won a bronze,' said a upset Lau afterwards. He was being kind to himself. If he had continued his form of the earlier four games, Hong Kong would have finished with a silver. Chung was sympathetic, despite having to bear the frustration of seeing his partner struggle. 'That's the way it goes. Everyone plays badly at some time or another,' said Chung, who achieved scores of 208 and 223 in the last two rounds. Coach Eric Jang was even more philosophical. 'The ball is round. That's how it bounces. But we should have won a medal today.' The men's and women's team will participate in the trios and fives, today and tomorrow.