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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK

Siti Zalina crowned singles queen

By Clive Lindsay
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

Ahmad Siti Zalina held her nerve to upset the odds and win the women's singles gold for Malaysia at Heaton Park, Manchester.

Australia's Karen Murphy had gone into the final as favourite having come through the groups and knock-out stages undefeated.

But Siti Zalina was never behind and held off a brave fightback from Murphy to win 21-19 and claim her country's fourth medal of the championships in Manchester and their first-ever Commonwealth Games gold.

"I told myself last night I would win it"
Ahmad Siti Zalina

Bowls was only introduced to Malaysia eight years ago - there are only 1200 active players in the country - and Siti Zalina has only been involved for six of them

But she fully expected to win and said: "I told myself before going to sleep last night that I would win it and now I feel great."

The 23-year-old from Ipoh-Perek had wanted to make up for only winning bronze in the fours on her own patch in Kuala Lumpur four years ago.

Murphy had won Commonwealth Games silver in the same event in Malaysia and took gold medals in pairs and fours at the Pacific Games.

But, most significantly, the 27-year-old from Wollongong had shown her singles prowess by finishing third at the 2000 World Bowls.

She had progressed through the group stages without defeat and then dumped Jane Rigby of Zimbabwe in the quarter-finals.

It was Rigby who had inflicted Sita Zalina's only defeat in the group stages.

But, against Murphy, she started superbly and established a 7-0 lead early on.

Murphy gradually clawed her way back into the match and leveled at 11-11 in the 14th end.

Sita Zalina struck back immediately with a four at the next end to regain the initiative.

She was 20-13 up and needed just one more score to claim victory, but Murphy staged another fightback to pull to within a shot.

The pressure finally told in the 22nd end as Sita Zalina grabbed the single shot she needed for victory.

Murphy had to be content with the first singles medal ever for Australia at a Commonwealth Games.

Bronze medals went to Marlene Castle of New Zealand and South Africa's Lorna Trigwell.

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