Shuttlers’ giant-killing act can inspire archer Khairul to aim higher

Sharp as an arrow: South Korean Kim Woo-jin is the giant in Khairul’s way.

PETALING JAYA: National archer Khairul Anuar Mohamad will have to draw inspiration from shuttlers Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik to clear the last-16 stage in the men’s recurve individual competition.

The 29-year-old faces two-time world champion Kim Woo-jin of South Korea, whom he had never beaten before, for a place in the quarter-finals at the Yumenoshima Park tomorrow. He has lost in all his four duels against the world No. 5 dating back to 2011.

The recent defeat came exactly at the same venue two years ago where Khairul was beaten 3-7 in the quarter-finals of the 2020 Tokyo test event.

The Korean, also 29, helped South Korea defend the team title on Monday and gave a solid performance in the first two rounds, beating Hungarian Matyas Balogh 6-0 and Pierre Plihon 6-2 to set up the clash with Khairul.

Although the odds are heavily stacked against him, Khairul has every reason to be upbeat especially having seen fellow contingent members Aaron-Wooi Yik outplay world No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi of Indonesia in the quarter-finals for the first time in eight attempts yesterday.

Besides, there are upsets in archery too.

Among the top names who have crashed out include two of Woo-jin’s teammates Oh Jin-hyek and Kim De-jeok, who lost to Atanu Das of India and Germany’s Florian Kahllund respectively.

The 17-year-old sensation De-jeok is the top seed and was tipped to make a clean sweep after winning the team and mixed team gold but he flopped in the individual event.

Veteran Jin-hyek, on the other hand, was looking to reclaim the gold he last won in London 2012 but floundered too.

Should Khairul upset Woo-jin, his road to the final will remain just as tough.

The other major contenders in the top half are 2017 world youth champion Tang Chih-chun of Taiwan and Italy’s Mauro Nespoli, a member of the London 2012 gold-medal winning team, whom Khairul could face in the quarter-final and semi-final stages respectively.

Reiging world champion Brady Ellison, who pipped Khairul to the world meet prize two years ago, and 2012 London silver medallist Takaharu Furukawa are the favourites from the bottom half.

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