Arrowing in on Tokyo glory

With money being no object for Olympics-bound athletes, the National Archery Association of Malaysia (NAAM) have told their ace Khairul Anuar Mohd to return with a medal from the Tokyo Games.

NAAM are seeking to become the fourth different sport to win a medal at the Olympics after badminton, diving and track cycling.

World No. 9 Khairul is seen as one of the country’s top prospects after claiming a historic silver medal at the World Championships in Hertogenbosch in Holland last July.

Khairul also secured his third Olympics appearance in the process.

NAAM now want Khairul to go to Tokyo as a serious contender, and not just make up the numbers.

Failure is definitely not an option with Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman giving an assurance that Olympians will be given the best possible treatment.

“We will do whatever it takes to make Khairul a contender in Tokyo,” said NAAM secretary Datuk Abdul Hamid Hassan.

“The National Sports Council have promised us full backing for any specialised programme for Khairul, so the onus is on us to deliver.

“Badminton, diving and most recently track cycling are the only three sports to have won medal for the country at the Olympics, hopefully archery can do its part too.”

Khairul’s best individual outing at the Olympics was reaching the quarter-finals in his debut in London 2012.

While NAAM’s top priority is preparing Khairul, Abdul Hamid insisted that qualifying for the team event for fourth straight Games was just as important.

Malaysia have never failed to be part of the team competition, which is exclusive to just 12 nations, since Beijing 2008.

Khairul and teammates Haziq Kamaruddin and Muhd Akmal Nor Hasrin failed in their first bid after failing to finish among the top eight nations in the world meet in Holland.

With hosts Japan assured of a team spot, there are three more berths left to be won at the final qualification tournament in Berlin in July. Malaysia took the same route to the 2016 Rio Olympics when they finished in the top three and qualified alongside France and Indonesia.

“We still have one last chance in Berlin, and we will try to take it. We did it four years ago, and I don’t see why we cannot do it again,” said Abdul Hamid.

“We have a solid team. Haziq and Akmal will certainly try their hardest to join Khairul. There’s plenty for both of them to compete for because if you qualify for the team, then you qualify for the individual event too.”

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