CHENG Shu Sian made it look so easy that he appeared to be in target practice rather than battling it out for a gold medal in the men's individual recurve final at the National Sports Complex archery range in Vientiane yesterday.
But there was to be no double celebration for Malaysia when S. Anbarasi was pipped to the women's individual gold by Novia Noriani of Indonesia.
National No 1 Chu Sian, however, successfully defended his title with a 113-105 win over Myanmar's Zaw Win Htike as Chu Sian opened a 10-point lead halfway through the contest.
At that point, all he needed to do was hold his nerve which he did like a seasoned professional that belied his 23 years of age.
"Even with a big lead you cannot afford to be complacent because just one mistake will let your opponent back in.
"I stuck to my strategy from the start to reduce the pressure of defending the gold medal but I always had the belief that I'd win gold," said Chu Sian in winning his second individual gold and fourth overall in three Sea Games' appearances.
Chu Sian was also a comfortable 112-108 winner over Indonesia's Hendro Suprianto in the semi-finals but hopes for an all-Malaysian final was dashed when Arif Farhan Ibrahim Putra's late error gifted Zaw Win Htike a 105-103 win.
"It is far better to play a teammate in the final like in Korat in 2007 (against Wan Khalmizam Wan Abd Aziz) because the gold medal is guaranteed for Malaysia.
"But I'm happy to have won for the country because all you can ever do is give your best and whoever is better on the day will win," added Chu Sian.
Arif, 18, was pleased to have won a bronze on his Sea Games debut and put his mistake in the semi-final, when he let a one-point lead slip with a 23 in the final end, down to inexperience.
"This being my first Sea Games, it is all about gaining experience. Reaching the semi-finals was a bonus, a bronze even better still, but I know I missed a great chance to make the final.
"But this will be a great lesson for me," said Arif, who will join Chu Sian and Fazli Hisham for the team event today.
Anbarasi became only the second Malaysian after Mon Redee Sut Txi in 2003 to reach the women's final after beating teammate Noor Aziera Taip 106-96 in the semi-finals.
But 26-year-old's hopes of winning the country's first gold in the event failed to materialise when she trailed Novia from the third arrow in a 103-101 defeat in windy conditions.
"I'm happy with the silver because it is my first in the individual event despite this being my fifth Sea Games. I'm disappointed I didn't win gold but I gave my best and she was more consistent than me," said Anbarasi, who did not score a single bulls-eye in the final.
Noor Aziera settled for bronze after beating Thin Thin Khaing of Myanmar 104-96 in the playoff. NST