DEBUTANT Arif Farhan Ibrahim Putra’s focus wavered when it mattered most and Malaysia lost their status as having the best men’s recurve team in South-East Asia.
The team of Cheng Chu Sian, Arif and Fazli Hisham Fauzi failed in the defence of the SEA Games title, losing 212-214 to Thailand in the final at the archery range in the National Sports Complex yesterday.
Malaysia had made it to the final with a 217-209 win over Indonesia while Thailand checked in with a 215-214 victory over Myanmar.
In the final, Malaysia led by three points at the half-way mark of a 24-arrow shoot-out but the 18-year-old Arif then lost his composure.
While Chu Sian and Fazli were right on the target, Arif was off the mark, shooting a poor seven thrice.
A disappointed Arif, a bronze medallist in the individual event, said his yo-yo performances in his first Games was a valuable learning curve.
“I just could not settle down today and, I think, the pressure got to me. I still have a lot to learn and I am determined to bounce back stronger,” he said.
The 23-year-old Chu Sian did not want to read too much into the defeat.
“This is a new team and we were aware of our challenges.
“It is a good exposure and experience for my team-mates,” said the individual gold medallist.
The women’s team of S. Anbarasi, Noor Aziera Taip and Nur Amirah Mohd were were reduced to tears after ending up without a medal.
They were beaten 193-196 by Myanmar in the shoot-out for the bronze medal. Indonesia took the gold, beating Singapore 190-195 in the final.
However, the Malaysian women’s compound team of Fatin Nurfatehah Mat Salleh, Nurhidayah Abdul Latip, Saritha Cham Nong nailed a surprise silver after losing 214-217 to Myanmar in the final yesterday.
It was the first compound medal for Malaysia in the SEA Games series.
Coach Adnan Ahmad said that the breakthrough had strengthened the compound archers’ claim for places in the contingent for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi next year.
“There will be compound competitions for the first time in the Commonwealth Games and, hopefully, the NSC (National Sports Council) will allow the team to go,” he said.
Malaysia finished the archery competition in Laos with a medal haul of 1-3-2. STAR