PETALING JAYA: Give the national archers a break.
National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail says they will not come hard on the Road to Tokyo programme athletes after they came up short in their bid to secure a fourth successive Olympic Games appearance in the men’s team event.
On Saturday, the trio of Khairul Anuar Mohamed, Zarif Syahiir Zolkepeli and Akmal Nor Hasrin missed the top three finish at the Final Qualification Tournament (FQT) in Paris, France after going down 2-6 to Ukraine in the quarter-finals.
The failure meant Malaysia will not be represented in the team event, exclusive only to 12 nations, for the first time since Cheng Chu Sian, Wan Khalmizam Abdul Aziz and Marbawi Sulaiman first made the breakthrough in Beijing 2008.
Although disappointed, Shapawi said all was not lost as they could count on world No. 10 Khairul to deliver in his third Olympics appearance in the individual competition.
The 29-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals at the 2012 London edition, had sealed his qualification way earlier through his historic silver medal winning feat at the 2019 World Championships in Holland.
“The outcome in Paris is disappointing as we have spent time and effort to get this team ready,” said Shapawi.
“We’ve planned for Tokyo 2020 even before Rio Olympics. We roped in Akmal into the squad back in 2016.
“But we have to remember that we lost an influential archer in Haziq Kamaruddin (who passed away due to heart attack last month) and his absence was sorely felt.
“The Olympics campaign is not over yet. Instead of pointing the finger, we want to channel all our support and focus in helping Khairul win archery’s first ever medal at the Olympics,” added Shapawi.
In the quarter-finals yesterday, Malaysia did give a good account of themselves against reigning European Championships runners-up Ukraine before bowing out.
Khairul and teammates lost narrowly with an identical score of 54-55 in the first two sets to trail by 0-4 points before they bounced back to claim the third set with 58-55, which earned them two points.
In the fourth set, the trio were unable to force a decider when they managed only 49 out of possible 60 shots.