Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Arif steps up to the challenge and earns spot in semis

ARCHERY debutant Arif Farhan Ibrahim Putra showed that he is the right man to take over the mantle from an off-form senior Wan Mohd Khalmizam Wan Abdul Aziz at the SEA Games.

Yesterday, he had to overcome a bout of nerves before joining defending champion and compatriot Cheng Chu Sian in the semi-finals of the men’s recurve individual competition at the range in the National Sports Complex.

Malaysia are assured of at least a silver in the women’s recurve when S. Anbarasi and Noor Aziera Taip won their quarter-final matches to set up an all-Malaysian semi-final today.

Olympian Khalmizam’s campaign in the Games ended when he failed to make the top 16 cut, finishing in 19th place in a 27-member field.

With his unsteady performance, Khalmizam will not shoot in the team competition. Malaysia have opted for another debutant, Fazli Hisham Fauzi, to team up with Chu Sian and Arif.

In the knockout stage of the individual competition, a jittery Arif survived a tense first-round battle against Sakhone Bounmixay of Laos before winning 101-100.

In the quarter-finals, a more confident Arif pulled off an upset over third seed Withaya Thamwong of Thailand, winning 106-104 to set up a match against Myanmar’s Zaw Win Htike for a place in the final.

Malaysia’s coach Lee Jae-hyung chose to be cautious despite a strong showing by Arif.

“He was a bundle of nerves in the opening round. He did show some progress in the quarter-finals but he needs to be steadier,” he said.

“We hope that he will come through his first SEA Games successfully. So far, he has performed better than Khalmizam.”

A cool Chu Sian showed he was on the right track to continue with Malaysia’s good tradition in SEA Games archery when he made it to the semi-finals convincingly.

The top seed received a first-round bye and defeated Mohd Ali Sofian 111-104 to set up a match against another Indonesian Hendro Suprianto.

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