WORLD CUP FINALS: Khairul is motivated competing with the world's top bowmenKHAIRUL Anuar Mohammad's historic qualification for the elite World Cup Finals next week shows archery remains on track to win a medal for Malaysia at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Malaysian archers have qualified for three Olympic Games without winning a medal but the National Archery Association of Malaysia (NAAM) believes this is about to change at the next edition.
"Our archers have shown very good progress over the years by qualifying for the last three Olympics," said NAAM honorary secretary Yazid Yahya.
"We did not win any medals then but we can now say that our archers can be depended upon to win medals at the 2016 Olympics."
Khairul made an instant impact in his senior international debut in 2011 by reaching the final of the World Cup fourth stage in Shanghai and winning the Asian Championship title.
Last year, Khairul reached the London Olympics quarter-finals before his performance in this year's World Cup circuit, including reaching the Shanghai semi-finals, made him the first Malaysian to qualify for the eight-man recurve World Cup Finals in Paris this weekend.
"Eight of the best archers in the world will gather in France and for Khairul to qualify, that is a very good sign of our development efforts," said Yazid.
"We have not set any targets for him other than for him to gain the most out of this exposure.
"He has achieved more than we expected and he is still relatively new on the world stage.
"We hope our other archers will be able to carry on from this."
Khairul, who turns 22 on Sunday, is ranked 10th in the world after dropping from a career-high No 5 when he skipped the fourth World Cup stage in Warsaw.
He finished the World Cup series in joint-eighth place on 25 points but qualified for Paris as only two archers per country can qualify and South Korea already had four in the top eight.
Khairul said he is expecting a very close competition but nevertheless has set a personal target of finishing on the podium and will be satisfied with nothing less than a run to the semi-finals of the individual recurve competition.
"This is a great opportunity for me. I have been very excited and motivated since I knew I had qualified for the event," said Khairy when met at the National Sports Complex yesterday.
"I have faced a few of them (other qualifiers) before and know with their quality, it will be a very tough competition.
"Obviously I want to win gold or if not at least a medal which means I must make the semi-finals.
"Although it is quite a tall order, if the others can do it, I believe there is no reason why I cannot achieve the same."
Olympic champion and World No 1 Oh Jin Hyek of South Korea leads the field which includes compatriot Lee Seung Yun, Italian Mauro Nespoli, China's Zhang Jianping and Dai Xiaoxiang, American Brady Ellison and French wildcard Gael Prevost.
Read more: ARCHERY: Fighting against the best - Other - New Straits Times