Singapore’s first World Bowling Champion
Everything begins with a dream, Adelene Wee likes to say. Her dream was to be a world champion. And six years after she started bowling, Adelene was the world champion. The 19-year old became the world's youngest – and Singapore's first – World Bowling Champion when she won the Ladies' Masters title at the 1985 World Games in London.
Her command performance saw her acing rivals from 23 other countries and chalking up a total pinfall of 1,601 on the final day. She achieved this thumping triumph despite a hamstring injury that had to be managed with painkillers, ice packs, and heat treatment.
Team manager Frank Lee said after her victory: “I could see that she was in pain each time she stood at the approach line. But she never once complained. She is a true champion.”
Returning from the Games, she arrived at Changi International Airport on 9 August and was whisked off in a Rolls Royce to Kallang Bowler-Drome where the opening ceremony of the Singapore International Championships had just taken place. As her arrival was announced, the 120 bowlers taking part stopped play in order to welcome and congratulate the new world champion.
Later, Adelene joined other sports personalities at the 21st National Day Parade.
Adelene was 12 when she began accompanying her father and two brothers Mike and Patrick, both national bowlers, to the bowling alley every weekend. Once she took up the sport, she put her heart and soul into it, and her talent soon came to the fore.
In 1981, when she was 15, she became the youngest ever winner of the Philippines Women's Open Masters when she won her first gold. She then bagged the 1982 Singapore International Bowling Championships and broke the world record for the six-game singles in ten-pin bowling in the Sukhumvit Open title.
Her ability to handle a 15-pound ball was remarkable, her coach said. And her dedication to her training unsurpassed. She would spend hours honing her bowling skills, and then more hours in the gym building up her strength.
In 1983 Adelene was named both Sportsgirl and Sportswoman of the Year, and in 1986 she earned her second Sportswoman of the Year title. She retired from competitive bowling in 1993.
"I think that was a terrific first to achieve, not just for myself. I think the best part about it is that because of what I did in London, everyone can now aspire, everyone can dream and reach for the sky. I’ve shown that it’s not impossible and I hope that’s great motivation."