KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — National bowling queen and former world champion, Shalin Zulkifli will focus her attention on chasing her childhood dream of becoming a champion in the professional bowling circuit.

This is the only one thing left to achieve, said the 42-year-old athlete who recently announced her retirement as a national player.

“In my list of achievements, everything is there, the SEA Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and even the world champion title. But I haven’t achieved anything in the pro circuit yet. Only that eludes me.

“Previously, I joined the pro circuit but my best achievement was second place. So I want to achieve my target, and that’s why I want to do my best to make my dream come true, InsyaAllah (God willing) by next year,” she said during a special news conference announcing her retirement today.

Shalin, who carved a stunning career with 74 medals throughout her 28 years in international bowling, handed her resignation letter to head coach, Holloway Cheah on Tuesday.

Shalin explained that the frequent injuries she sustained also factored in her decision to leave the national squad.

“I don’t know how long I can continue to compete, that’s one of the reasons why I’m retiring because I’ve got many injuries. I was injured in nearly every championship I competed in. Especially in the last five years, I sustained quite a number of injuries.

“I need to give my body a break and heal properly before I compete in the pro circuit in April,” she said, adding that she hoped to publish a biography about herself, especially her journey in the sport of tenpin bowling.

Shalin started playing tenpin bowling when she was nine and in 1991, she was crowned Selangor’s Most Promising Sports Girl of the Year. Three years later, she won the 1994 Kent Malaysian All-Star Women’s Championship, becoming the first Malaysian and youngest ever player to do so.

From then on, she didn’t look back as she earned title after title at the national level, the SEA Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and even emerged as a world champion.

Shalin, a five-time National Sportswoman of the Year winner in 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2002, won the World Women’s Team Championship gold medal thrice, in 2003 in Malaysia, 2007 in Mexico and lastly in 2017 in Las Vegas, the United States.

Meanwhile, the Youth and Sports Ministry has requested the National Sports Council (NSC) to continue discussing with Shalin, her future plans.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said in a statement that he respected and accepted Shalin’s decision to retire after 28 years of dedication to enhancing the sport of bowling in the country.

“Shalin is a big-hearted athlete who has been involved with several programmes including welfare support for national athletes. Her contributions include being the Malaysian Olympic Council Athletes’ Commission chairman besides her involvement in women’s development in sports.

Reezal Merican said he personally and on behalf of the ministry, sports fans and all Malaysians, thanked Shalin for her immense contribution to the country all this while.

He also thanked her family, the management, coaching staff and the national bowling team who had directly and indirectly contributed to the making of a star and sports champion, Shalin.

NSC director-general, Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said Shalin’s retirement from the national team would have an impact on the team, but it was common knowledge that every athlete’s journey would one day come to an end.

“Her decision is very sad news, but we have to accept reality... and continue our search for new bowling talents and we do discover many young players through certain programmes,” he said at Shalin’s news conference today. — Bernama