From left: Khairul Anuar Mohd, Haziq Kamaruddin and Muhd Ikram Joni celebrate after defending the men's recurve team gold medal at the Singapore SEA Games on Saturday. - TAN MING WAI/ The STAR
SINGAPORE: Malaysian archers are still the kings of South-East Asia.
The men’s recurve trio of Khairul Anuar Mohd, Haziq Kamaruddin and Muhd Ikram Joni won the team gold for the third consecutive time after fending off a fierce challenge from Indonesia at the Kallang Cricket Ground.
Malaysia had to fight back twice before prevailing 5-4 against a formidable Indonesian line-up of Riau Ega Agatha, Hendra Purnama and Muhd Hanif Wijaya.
Before the Games, Malaysia’s dominance in the recurve event looked to be under serious threat.
Khairul and Co struggled to impress in the first two assignments of the year whilst arch-rivals Indonesia were in buoyant mood, having won their first-ever World Cup medal by finishing third in the opening leg in Shanghai.
But on Saturday, Malaysia proved that they are still the ones to beat in the region. More importantly, it has given them the right momentum ahead of next month’s Rio Olympics qualification at the World Championships in Copenhagen.
“We had a slow start ... luckily, we got right back when it mattered to force the decider and won,” said Khairul.
“The key was to relax and keep it simple in the fourth set and the deciding shoot-off. We were trying too hard at the start and ended up not performing.
"Credit also to Ikram for a job well done. It's his first SEA Games.”
Unfortunately, Khairul and inexperienced rookie Loke Shin Hui could not add another gold in the mixed team event.
The Malaysian pair went down to Indonesia’s Riau and Ika Yuliana Rochmawati 5-1 to settle for the silver.
Haziq too failed to bag a double after losing 6-2 to Thailand's Witthaya Thamwong in the individual final – thus ending Malaysia’s gold medal-run in this event since the 2007 Games in Korat.
The Star Online