In part 2 of this inspiring series of three notable women in society who have penned to their younger selves, Malaysia’s professional 10-pin bowler and four-time Asian No. 1 Shalin Zulkifli looks back on her journey to becoming a national athlete and her most cherished moments along the way.

Dear Shalin,

When I look back now, I feel very blessed. Blessed because if you only knew how much you have achieved from all your hard work, resilience, patience, determination and passion for bowling. I sincerely do not know how you were able to be so single minded in your goals of becoming world’s best.

At that time, I remember you never questioning the sleepless nights, the blisters & the long 2-hour journey to Asia Jaya to train. The heavy backpack because you had to bring your training clothes with you to school. The long walks to the bus stations, having to take 3 different busses to school and to your training centre by yourself at 10 because your parents were working.

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Above Shalin as a child surrounded by her aunt, uncle and cousins at a family gathering.

People see the glory and glamour now, but there were a lot of tears and sweat behind it.

I have been a national athlete for more than 25 years now, and a certified coach too for the last 15 years or so, and it’s hard to find kids now that are willing to do even 10% of what you did at your age. Remember how you and your teammates would bowl at times for more than 20 games a day, twice daily? To this day people still wonder what made you who you are now. Your X Factor.

National Champion at 14 years old. A record that still stands today. A blessing from Allah for all your hard work. However because of that early success too, it was hard for you to find true friends. I feel sorry for you because at that young an age, you had a bullseye on your back. So many people with ill intentions who wanted to see you fail but you refused to give in or give up!

I salute you.

A lot of people think you had an easy life, if only they knew. Nonetheless, because of all the sacrifice and hardships you went through, you had the strength to overcome a lot of hurdles that were thrown your way later in life. People see the glory and glamour now, but there were a lot of tears and sweat behind it. You are so blessed to have achieved, won and contributed to the sport of bowling in Malaysia and the world.

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Above A young Shalin receives her first international adult medal in Guam.

Thank your mum. For always pushing you, nagging you to eat well and for doing a post mortem after every interview. She gave you a one-on-one media lesson. Always appreciate everything that your parents have done for you. How they always emphasized quality time because you couldn’t have quantity.

Always and I mean always treat people with respect and do the right thing.

Make better money choices and invest your winnings early because sports won’t last forever. You will need to plan your future because you are only as good as the gold medals you bring in.

The amount of patience, discipline and dedication that you had was not only for the lanes, but it was for you to be a mum.

You were blessed to have so many opportunities and doors opened. You almost gave up after the Commonwealth games in 1998 because you felt that you let the country and everyone down. You were expected to win the gold but you only managed to win a bronze. Little did you know, that was the turning point in your career. If that didn’t happen, you wouldn’t have gotten your degree and achieved a more in-depth understanding of the game and life. It has made you a whole and better athlete.

To your surprise, your most memorable moment would not be the trophy you lift or the number of gold medals around your neck. 28th of June, 2012 was the day your life became complete. The amount of patience, discipline and dedication that you had was not only for the lanes, but it was for you to be a mum.

Your journey back tore you in two different directions. You were lucky that you were able to always keep your daughter close to you. That gave you the peace of mind to do YOU. Bowling is your me time for yourself so that you can be a better mum for her. Losses don’t seem like the end of the world anymore, you have a new perspective on life. No matter how bad a day you might have, there is this girl smiling at you. Giving you unconditional love. You are BLESSED.


This marks the end of part 2 of our letters series. You can read part 1 here:

Letter To My Younger Self: Puan Sri Siew Yong Gnanalingam, Former MAS Spokesperson For 17 Years

 Stay tuned to read part 3.

Photos: Shaffiq Farhan

Art Direction & Styling: Liew Chiaw Ching

Makeup: Joyce Lee using YSL Beauty

Hair: Angeline Low

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