An astounding three gold medals altered the course of Remy Ong’s life at the 2002 Asian Games. He returned to a hero’s welcome and overnight celebrity in Singapore. It was no surprise when he was named Sportsman of the Year in 2003 in recognition of his Asian Games victories.
Ong could have retired gracefully from competition on the spot. However, what many people perceived as overnight stardom was, in fact, one step of Remy’s long journey to realizing his dream of being becoming World Champion.
Introduced to bowling at the age of six by his uncle, Remy surprised his friends by staying with the game long after they had given it up. Remy bowled by himself, two or three times a week. When he was 15, he began training under a professional coach. At 16, Remy made a momentous decision to give up his studies and turn professional.
During 2002, Remy had emerged as one of the top three bowlers in the AMF World Cup held in Latvia, facing a tough field of 83 top class bowlers. His success at the 2002 Asian Games seemed to confirm that world victory was just a lane away.
However, Ong learned that few things are guaranteed in sports, no matter how focused the athlete. His triumphs in Busan were followed by competitions where he simply could not win. He began his comeback in 2004, winning the Qatar Open and the Guam Open. Ong made it to the semi-finals at the Singapore AMF World Cup in 2004.
Finally, in October 2006, Ong won the singles title at the World Championships in Korea. It was a record setting performance in singles with a 1524 set to break the existing record by 43 pins. Ong also captured the all events title with a 5,566 total. Realizing his long-held dream was also the highlight of his career.
With the title of World Champion, Ong went to the Asian Games in Doha in December 2006 as the favourite in mens bowling. He had the chance to be the first mens bowler to win two consecutive titles at the Asiad. But it was not to be.
Although Ong fought a hard battle against his Korean competitor, he had to settle for the silver medal and the knowledge that he had blocked a Korean sweep of the podium. Said Ong later: “This time, it was all about Team Singapore bringing home gold. I am really proud of my team. Thank you, Singapore.”
Clearly the young man who had won with such talent in Busan had matured into a realistic and skilful sportsman in 2006. “Next time, I’ll try harder,” he said. Regardless of his disappointment, Ong was already analyzing his performance. He was prepared to learn from his mistakes—and to be patient.
For his World Championship win and his strong leadership of the team in Doha, Remy was the recipient of the Sportsman of the Year Award in 2007.