Mr Mike Lam had his first taste of bowling during the school holidays when he was in Secondary 1, and never looked back since. He was eventually selected to be in the Singapore National Youth Team when he was 18, and donned our national colours to represent the country at the 1st World Bowling Championships in Manila, Philippines in 1988, and the Asian Youth FIQ Championships in Guam in 1991. At the age of 22, he was chosen to join the National Bowling Team and went on to represent Singapore at the World Bowling Championships in Nevada, USA. Six years later, he clinched the Bronze medal in the Men’s Team of Five category in the Asian FIQ Bowling Championships in Taiwan. Mike retired from the National Bowling Team at 28 years old. He is now the Deputy Director of Administrative Operations at Hwa Chong International School.
(1) Hi Mr Mike! How have you been contributing to Singapore bowling after your retirement from the National Team?
In 2004, I made a career switch from Singapore Prisons Service to set up the Bowling Academy in the Singapore Sports School (SSP), with the objective of grooming student athletes to progress to the National Youth Team and National Team. I am proud to say that as of end 2021, about 70% of the National Team and National Youth Team are current or former SSP students.
For 8 years till 2013, I wore two hats as council member of the Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF), working closely with Immediate Past President Mrs Jessie Phua and her coaching team including the former Technical Director Mervyn Foo, to ensure a seamless transition for SSP bowlers to progress into the National and National Youth teams.
About a year ago, I was invited by the President of SBF, Dr Valerie Teo, to rejoin the SBF Council. I could not resist as I felt I could value add in some ways. I am involved in various sub-committees in the SBF setup, such as the High Performance Team which oversees the national teams and national coaches.
(2) We understand that you will be accompanying the National Bowling Team to the 31st SEA Games in an official capacity. How are you feeling and do you have any word of encouragement for the team?
I feel immensely proud of the team! Six out of our eight national team members were enrolled into the Singapore Sports School (SSP) by me when they were only 13 or 14 years old. That was 18 years ago. They have since graduated and achieved so much in their bowling careers. I feel just like a proud parent, being able to personally witness and support them at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi. They are definitely very seasoned competitors! I wish them success and at the same time, to thoroughly enjoy themselves at the SEA Games!
(3) Can you share your thoughts on the future of bowling in Singapore?
Mrs Jessie Phua, who stepped down as SBF President after almost two decades at the helm, had accomplished a lot for Singapore bowling. She established a healthy ecosystem for the sport, in which all stakeholders are working in tandem. The future is certainly very bright for Singapore bowling. We will go from strength to strength under the good leadership of our new SBF President, Dr Valerie Teo.
(4) Do you have any motivational words for our student gymnast, Shandy Poh, who will be representing Singapore in the upcoming SEA Games 2022?
It is a great honour to be able to represent Singapore. Treasure the moment, no regrets. Make it count!
(5) Do you have any tips for students who want to start pursuing a sport?
Find something that piques your interest. Then get a friend to start it together. It is always more fun to do something together! Encourage each other as you go along and keep each other company. Celebrate the small successes along the journey, it keeps you going!
(6) How does HCIS provide support and assistance to students to nurture and develop their talent in sports?
In HCIS, we have numerous curriculum and programmes in place to provide opportunities for students to try out different sports and activities. These include the Shamrock Programme, Sabbatical Programme and the wide range of CCAs we offer in our school. For students who are involved in competitions, special arrangements can also be made. For example, our teachers will schedule personalized examinations or homework timetables for students in the Singapore National Team or National Youth Team should they need time off from school to prepare for their competitions. We did that recently for Shandy Poh, our national gymnast, to facilitate her participation in the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam.
(7) What are the plans HCIS have in place to promote sports excellence in the school?
More facilities are being built as part of our school expansion project, which include a gym, swimming pool and an indoor multi-purpose hall. We are also hiring coaches of higher quality to train our students, especially in the niche CCAs. For example, we currently have Mervyn Foo, the ex-Technical Director of SBF, and other national bowlers coaching our Bowling CCA. HCIS also offers Talent-based scholarships to Singaporean or SPR students who excel in sports to further support them in their pursuits. We have a dedicated Talent Management Team to monitor the progress of our sports scholars to make sure that their sporting and academic interests are both well taken care of.
(8) Do you think it is possible to balance sports and studies? Any advice based on your own experience as a national bowler and mentor to young bowlers?
Yes, of course it is very possible to strike a balance between sports and studies. It can be done and has been done as seen in the Singapore Sports School model. Our Assistant Principal, Mr Raymond Mak (Former Assistant Director of Student Development at SSP), was the pioneer school management team who spearheaded the SSP project. Each of us has spent more than 10 years fine-tuning the system to balance both studies and athletic pursuits. My advice is to have a dream and work diligently towards it. Share it with your parents, coaches and teachers where you need help and guidance. Last but not least, always remember to celebrate each win, no matter how small it may be!
Updated: Images taken during the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam