KUALA LUMPUR: Archer Khairul Anuar Mohammad will have the opportunity to gift himself the perfect birthday present when he competes at the World Cup Finals in Paris this Sept 21 and 22.
Khairul, who will turn 22 on Sunday is set to compete in the men’s individual recurve event on that day. And if he wins the final, he stands to pocket US$20,000 (RM65,000).
Despite being the first Malaysian to make it to the archery World Cup Finals, Khairul is unfazed by the challenge. He faces South Korea’s Lee Seungyun in the first quarter-final match on Sunday.
Ranked second, Seungyun qualified for the Finals with 50 points while Khairul tied at eight position with 25 points along with China’s Dai Ziaoxiang.
“I’m not nervous at all. The way I see it, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Khairul at the National Sports Council Tuesday after the press conference to announce his participation.
The Finals will also feature reigning Olympic champion Oh Jin-hyek of South Korea, Italian Mauro Nespoli, China’s Zhang Jianping, two-time champion Brady Elisson of the United States, and Frenchman Gael Prevost.
“Who doesn’t want to win the gold? If they (other archers) can do it, why can’t I? It will be tough going up against the Koreans, especially in the first match. So my aim is to get myself into the semi-finals and take it from there,” said Khairul.
“I’m learning from my mistakes. I tend to lose my rhythm when I get to the penultimate stage and my oponent closes in on me. I then start to focus on the target which is a costly mistake. This time I’m going to concentrate 70-80% on my shooting alone. I know that if I can get that locked down, I’ll stand in good stead,” added the world No. 10.
Meanwhile, head coach Lee Jae-hyung has already decided on his team for the World Archery Championships which take place in Belek, Turkey, from Sept 29-Oct 6.
The men’s team will comprise Khairul, Atiq Bazil Bakri and Olympian Haziq Kamaruddin.
Malaysia, who are currently ranked seventh in the world, achieved their best finish in the men’s recurve team event in Madrid, Spain, in 2005 when they came in fifth.
“This year, all of our competitions and training have been targeted at getting ourselves ready for the big three - the World Championships, Asian Championships and SEA Games. I think we’ve assembled a good team with Khairul, Atiq and Haziq,” said Jae-hyung.
“After the London Olympics, we saw Haziq’s form drop a little, but he’s managed to bounce back and finished 17th in Colombia (third-leg of the World Cup series). We also finished second there in the team event,” he added.
“I think this time, we can aim for a top four finish.”
By ASHREENA PILLAI - The Star