SEPANG: World Champions Rafiq Ismail, Tun Hakim Tun Hasnul Azam and Adrian Ang received a heroes' welcome at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) upon their return from Hong Kong today (Thursday).
Rafiq made history when he won the singles event gold at the World Bowling Championships in Hong Kong on Saturday.
"Obviously I feel really happy to come back home with a World Championship medal," said Rafiq.
"It was a really tough competition with all of the best bowlers competing and my expectations were not really high.
"To win the Asian Games and World Championship golds is just something I really did not expect to pull off in the same year.”
The 21-year-old added that he is keen on working even harder to further improve himself in the future.
"This is the best year so far in my career and I hope to stay humble, focused and working hard to hopefully achieve more wins.
"My goal is to follow in the footsteps of Shalin Zulkifli and I told her this when she congratulated me (for winning gold). I believe this (gold) is one step in the right direction."
Rafiq defeated Canada's Dan Maclelland 217-204 in the singles final to become the first Malaysian Bowler to win the gold since 1979, when Allan Hooi, Ed Lim and J.B Koo won the trios at the Manilla edition.
A day later, Adrian and Tun Hakim then defeated American pair EJ Tackett-Andrew Anderson 433-370 for the doubles title to make it Malaysia's best ever performance in the history of the competition.
Adrian said it was a long awaited win for himself.
"This is the sixth time I have represented Malaysia in the tournament, and this is my first gold medal, so obviously I am very happy," said Adrian.
"I have to thank my partner (Tun Hakim) as we showed a good understanding between each other this time round, which was not always the case before this."