IN HER four years at Wichita State University in the United States, Singaporean bowler Jazreel Tan has earned nearly every accolade possible.
Now, the newly crowned Collegiate Bowler of the Year has created another piece of history: She is the first woman to win the award for the third year running.
The award, now in its 26th year, is given by the International Bowling Media Association.
Tan is also the second woman to be named on the All-American first team – given to the top five collegiate bowlers in the country – for four consecutive years, after Vicki Parker of Indiana State University (1983-1986).
But as far as the 23-year-old is concerned, “perfect” can still be more perfect.
She told The Straits Times in a phone interview from Lincoln, Nebraska where she is slated to compete in the women’s semi-finals of the Inter-collegiate Singles Championships: “I’m really humbled to have been recognised in a country that is not my own.
“But the team championship is the one that I really hope to win.”
Wichita State’s team, known as the Shockers, have the most accomplished collegiate bowling programme in the US, with a record 19 men’s and women’s national championships – but have gone the past four years without tasting glory.
Tan, a final-year sports management undergraduate and captain of the team, is hoping to change that this weekend in the team event as the perfect way to close out her collegiate career.
She said: “We’ve been close but have just fallen short the last four years. It’s been heart-breaking.”
The two-time Singapore Sportsgirl of the Year has been impressive on the collegiate circuit since her freshman year in 2009.
She won the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches’ Association’s Rookie of the Year award in 2010, following it up with a Most Valuable Player award the next year.
Off the lanes, she has also won three academic All-American awards, given to student-athletes with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher on all course work.
Tan will return to Singapore next month after graduating.
She said: “It’s sad and I can’t believe how fast the last four years have gone by.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I’ve done these past years without my team-mates and coaches.”
SingaporeBowling president Jessie Phua was delighted to hear the news of Tan’s latest achievement.
She said: “It is a most deserving and befitting recognition for one of our most talented and dedicated athletes.
“There’s no denying that every time we have a major Games, she’s the automatic choice for captain.
“College life in the US has done so much for her.
“It’s opened her up as a person and as an athlete she’s learnt so much more.”