Meet the team: A Malaysian men’s squad with potential

Two-time Olympians Khairul Anuar Mohamad and Haziq Kamaruddin anchor a Malaysian recurve men’s team in Shanghai that also features Muhammad Akmal Nor Hasrin, who shot at his first Games in Rio, and Muhammad Ikram Joni. The four, though rich in both experience and potential, have an average age of just 22 years. 

Khairul and Haziq shot as part of the team that won Malaysia its latest medal on a Hyundai Archery World Cup stage, back in 2013 in Medellin.

“At every competition we focus on doing our achieving the highest places, on how we do things and if what we practised works or not. Sometimes you can’t control specific conditions like the weather or your equipment, and that’s when things don’t go as expected,” said team captain Khairul.

Malaysia qualified its team for Rio at the last opportunity, the final team qualifiers just weeks ahead of the Games.

The same four men as in Shanghai entered Malaysia’s national team trials for Rio 2016. Haziq, Khairul and Muhammad were selected, leaving Ikram as the alternate. The Olympics brought fame, recognition and expectation back in Malaysia.

Archery proved extremely popular on television during the Olympics, achieving high viewing figures across the territory.

“People recognise me because of the Olympics in Rio. It doesn’t matter where I am but if people see me, they will ask about my experience at the Games, they will ask for a picture. It feels good. Being recognised as an athlete is important for both my personal and professional life because It motivates me more,” said Muhammad.

“People will always expect us to make a finals match and of course we go for it, but it can’t always happen. Especially in a sport like archery. What we do is to try to collect as much as we can from each competition we go to and put it together ahead of the next,” added Haziq.

The team is driving for success on the international circuit.

“We all have different experiences as archers but for me we are all the same when we’re on the team. We are all looking for the same thing: winning. For example, I’m the highest ranked men in Malaysia, but any of them can beat at any time because we are all trying to challenge each other. There’s a lot of respect between us,” said Khairul.

Shanghai is an opportunity to measure themselves ahead of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games where, as hosts in Kuala Lumpur there is an opportunity to feed off home support, and the World Archery Championships in Mexico City.

“This is our first international outdoor event. This will be a busy year for us and we do want to improve and do better,” said Khairul.

After Shanghai, the foursome will compete together at the stages in Antalya and Salt Lake City.

“Many countries focus on team competitions because it’s easier to make the finals together as a team rather than individually. Together you can support each other on the line, help when things aren’t going well and correct mistakes. The spirit you promote is positive and it helps in the individual competitions as well, in terms of confidence,” concluded Haziq.

The first stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup runs 16 to 21 May in Shanghai, China.

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