PETALING JAYA: Athletes in the South-East Asian region often use the SEA Games as the stepping stone to bigger conquests.
But recurve archer Muhd Akmal Nor Hasrin is an exception to the rule.
The 20-year-old’s first major multi-sport Games was the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last year. He competed in the individual as well as the team event.
“At this time last year I was in Rio realising my Olympic dream. I started right at the pinnacle of sports and it’s unbelievable. I’m really grateful for the experience,” said Akmal.
Still, Akmal is excited at making his SEA Games debut in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 19-30.
“I’ll finally get my first taste of the SEA Games and at home too. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Akmal.
Akmal proved to be a reliable No. 3 archer since he was promoted to the elite team early last year.
Combining with Olympic team-mates Khairul Anuar Mohamed and Haziq Kamaruddin, Akmal won his first major medal – a team bronze – at the World Cup Stage 3 in Salt Lake City, the United States, in June this year.
He also reached the quarter-finals to be the best-performing Malaysian in the individual event.
For Akmal, he has set his sights on helping Malaysia retain the team gold for the fourth successive time at the Games.
“I’m aware of Malaysia’s proud tradition. I’m determined to do my part in keeping the fine record intact,” said Akmal.
“Indonesia and Thailand will be out to get us, but we are ready to fend them off,” he said.
Besides the Olympic trio, the fourth member in the team is Muhd Zarif Syahiir Zolkepeli.
The archers will also be tasked to reclaim the individual recurve gold. Malaysia were champions since Korat 2007 but Haziq lost to Thai Witthaya Thamwong in Singapore two years ago.