Hong Kong’s men’s tenpin bowling team earned a World Championships spot despite finishing empty-handed at the Asian Championships in Causeway Bay on Wednesday. Tony Wong Kwan-yuen, 27, and Michael Mak Cheuk-yin were both in the top 16 of the Masters event at South China Athletics Association, with the former finishing seventh overall with a total score of 3,921 points, while Mak finished 15th with 3,637. Malaysia’s Muhd Rafiq Ismail – champion in the trios, team of five, and all-events competitions, defeated South Korea’s Park Geon-ha 488-450 in the stepladder final to win his fourth gold medal at the regional showcase. “We cannot expect much from our team because it’s the first event they’ve had since returning to the international battlefield after nearly three years,” Tenpin Bowling Association chairwoman Vivien Lau Chiang-chu said. “I’m glad that they managed to finish in the top five as a team to book a place in the [IBF] World Mixed Championships [in Kuwait in October], which is one of our main events to gain points to meet the elite sports’ benchmark of the Hong Kong Sports Institute.” The top 10 men’s and women’s teams qualified for the Worlds, with Hong Kong finishing fourth on 28,028 points, based on the top five scorers from four events. Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore topped the men’s list. Singapore also led the way among the women and were powered by Cherie Tan, who also won four gold medals in Hong Kong – the singles, trios, all-events, and Masters – followed by South Korea and Malaysia. Hong Kong’s Wu Siu-hong, who was just 18 points short of qualifying for the Masters at the Worlds, said it was a “new start” for the city’s team. “It’s a shame we cannot win a medal for Hong Kong on our home soil,” said the 38-year-old former Worlds’ trio gold medallist, whose last international event was in 2019. “After battling with Asian players here, I discovered that my form, both technically and physically, has been stagnant for three years, while the others have made significant progress. “A good sign is that we are back to normal now, and we still have nine months before the World Championships to catch up with the rest of the world, and hopefully we will have enough competitions to lead in the Worlds.” With tenpin bowling being dropped from the upcoming Asian Games for the first time since 1990, the best competitions for athletes to meet the Sports Institute benchmarks are the World Championships and World Cup events. “I know it is more difficult for us to achieve good results at the world level than at the Asian Games, but we do not want our sports to be kicked out of the HKSI. Not only will our salary be cut, but the nurturing of the youngsters will suffer greatly,” Wu, also a former World Cup champion, said. Lau, the Asian Bowling Federation’s honorary life president, said she will travel to the Hangzhou Asian Games in September to lobby Japanese officials to include bowling as a medal event at the 2026 Fukuoka Asian Games. Singapore topped the overall medal tally with four gold medals, two silvers, and two bronzes, followed by Malaysia and South Korea. Meanwhile, Wei Qingfeng, secretary general of the Chinese Bowling Association, said that tenpin bowling is being considered for inclusion as a “sports for all event” in the 2025 National Games and that Hong Kong would be the best location to host the event. With China also absent from international competition for the past three years because of Covid-19 restrictions, its women’s team of five won a bronze medal last week for the first time in 15 years. China’s last women’s medal in the regional championships came in 2008, when they won bronze in doubles.