Raw archer Syaqiera can take a bow for spirited debut

PETALING JAYA: The future is certainly bright for fresh-faced Syaqiera Mashayikh.

The 20-year-old’s spirited Olympics debut has left both her coaches satisfied despite a first-round elimination in the individual competition yesterday.

Syaqiera almost became Malaysia’s first women archer to win a match at the Olympics, something that Mon Redee Sut Txi and Nurul Syafiqah Hashim also failed to accomplish when they competed in Athens 2004 and London 2012.

However, Syaqiera did not bow out without a fight despite losing 4-6 (26-25, 26-28, 26-26, 25-25, 23-29) to the more fancied Elena Opisova of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Yumenoshima Park.

Despite competing in only her third international outing, Syaqiera showed no fear against the world No. 4, who led the ROC to a silver medal in the women’s team event on Sunday.

Syaqiera has been performing well since the ranking round where she posted a personal best of 630 points (previous best of 619) to finish 43rd out of 60 competitors.

“We’re very pleased with Syaqiera. For an inexperienced archer, we couldn’t have asked for more,” said head coach Lee Jae-hyung.

“If not for the lack of experience, she could have upset Elena. She had a great opportunity to edge ahead in the third set.”

Jae-hyung believes the experience will stand Syaqiera in good stead and he and his team of coaches including former Olympian Marbawi Sulaiman are looking to build on a formidable women’s team for Paris 2024.

For the record, Malaysia have never qualified for the women’s team event.

The National Archery Association of Malaysia (NAAM) took a bold step by releasing all the seniors following a lacklustre performance at the 2019 SEA Games.

Only Nuramalia Haneesha Mazlan was spared with the national body roping in Syaqiera, Nur Ain Ayuni Fozi and Nurul Azreena Fazil to rebuild the squad.

In today’s men’s individual contest, world No. 15 Khairul Anuar Mohamad will take on Finland’s Antii Vikstrom.

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