Forget any fear: Sharyn welcomes Asian challenge
JUST months ago, Sharyn Crouchen would have feared playing in Asia.
Now, she's ready to test herself against some of the best tenpin bowlers in the world.
The multi-talented Ipswich sportswoman is preparing to represent Australia for the first time at next month's Asian Zone Seniors Championships in Japan.
Having recently achieved her best results at the national masters championships in Melbourne, Crouchen is feeling more confident than before about her international mission.
She has focused on her fitness, improved her training commitment and boosted her knowledge contesting regular higher level competitions.
"What opened my eyes up on the national tournaments last year is that I probably didn't focus as much as I should,'' the Queensland representative said.
"In order to compete in those tournaments, you really have to focus on every single shot.
"With the leg fitness and everything, it's all just come together for me and I'm not frightened of people any more.
"I feel like I can compete with them on that level now.''
Her impressive efforts at the recent national titles highlighted that.
The Bundamba-based bowler finished sixth overall in the Australian Masters, winning a silver medal in the singles.
She also shared in the Queensland team's silver medal feats in the combined ladies and combined overall competitions, and a bronze in the ladies teams event.
Crouchen received the award for highest other average (186) in her division and was recognised with the sportsperson award.
"Individually, I had my best week ever,'' Crouchen said, thrilled with all those successes at the same tournament.
"I had a really good week.
"To get a silver medal in the singles, and to be in the calibre of the people that I was with, was pretty good.''
That came after she made her first serious foray into higher level masters competition last year, being part of Queensland's Seniors team bronze medal performance at the nationals.
Having been a tenpin bowler for decades, Crouchen moved to the Logan 20-lane centre after the closure of Bundamba tenpin centre following the 2011 floods.
She also started competing against higher rated bowlers at competitions in major centres like Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
"I kind of started doing national-ranked events last year in seniors and I really enjoy that,'' she said.
She also discovered she belonged in higher company, acknowledging she was nearly a full-time bowler.
However, heading to Japan will expose Crouchen to a new level of professional bowling.
"I'm not really sure what to expect,'' she said, other than the format will be similar to the national titles.
"The Asian teams are very strong professionally . . . they are very focused on their sport so professional there means they are bowling every day.
"We don't get that opportunity.
"It's going to be tough but it will also be very interesting learning.''
However, with some new bowling gear, she's working on her left-handed approach and delivery.
"I have been doing a lot of work, fitness work, especially in preparation for Japan,'' she said.
"Mainly leg work because a lot of your strength in bowling comes from your weight.
"I'll continue what I'm doing in my league but just more practice.''
With a highest score of 277/300, Crouchen is also a League secretary in her sport and recently became a level one coach.
She was an active participant and team manager at the Bundamba tenpin centre before it closed.
She gave up playing vigoro six years ago so not to risk damaging her bowling fingers.
However, the former Ipswich and Queensland representative player continues to help that sport too through umpiring. She is vice-president of the Ipswich Vigoro Umpire's Association.
She was a dependable statistician and results recorder during her 40 years associated with vigoro.
Earlier this year, Crouchen worked in spectator services in gymnastics and the netball finals at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
That followed earlier roles at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and serving at the 2007 FINA (swimming) world championships in the same city.
She also enjoys being regularly involved with tennis events like the Brisbane International.
Crouchen said working as a volunteer at major events helped her in her competitive tenpin bowling.
"I think I'm more grounded,'' the versatile Ipswich sportswoman said.
"There's always politics in sport and I kind of don't get too much involved in that because I can see both sides.''
Fulfilling various volunteer roles provides added satisfaction for the highly regarded administrator.
"I always like giving back,'' she said.
"I've had a lot of success in my sport and that's my way of giving back.''
What's most enjoyable about tenpin: "Particularly in the seniors, it's ultra-competitive still but there's a fun element, which you don't often get in the open environment, and we're all good friends''.
Most challenging aspect: "Wanting to continue to do better, just learning to focus harder. My biggest downfall is concentrating.''