FISHING trips with his father in the jungles of Kemaman during his early childhood may well have tempered the steely resolve that courses through the body of the nation’s top archer Khairul Anuar Mohd.
The 21-year-old has shown maturity beyond his age over the past 12 months – transforming from wavering youth to a medal prospect at the London Olympics.
Khairul, who will be competing in the recurve individual and team events with Cheng Chu Sian and Haziq Kamaruddin at the Games, has his gaze fixed on the objective and arrows poised to strike.
Malaysia’s highest ranked archer at world No. 5 with top finishes at the highly competitive Asian Championships and World Cup in recent months, Khairul firmly believes that those fishing outings with dad gave him the patience and temperament to excel in the sport.
Coach Lee Jae-hyung agrees, saying the stocky Khairul’s meteoric rise is due to his mental strength.
“I was quite young when I started following my father (Mohd Said) on fishing trips. My dad is a farmer who loves fishing and we used to go into unchartered waters in the jungle sometimes,” said Khairul, who is the fourth of five siblings.
“I loved those trips and we did catch a good deal of fish. In fact, when my dad was too busy, I used to sneak into the jungle on my own to find spots for fishing. It really did toughen me up.”
In fact, his old hobby caught on after he left his hometown. After a day’s workout at the archery training ground in Bukit Jalil, Khairul and a few friends go fishing at several spots in the city.
“Fishing has a calming effect but it can also test one’s patience. Sometimes, in the quietness, I get to review my archery technique as well,” said Khairul, who had also tried his hand at shooting, athletics, football and hockey before deciding to focus on archery.
“Most of the time, I catch siakap (barramundi). We take the fish to a restaurant nearby where they cook it for us. There’s nothing like enjoying one’s own catch.”
With archery requiring a lot of repetitions to perfect delivery and execution, Khairul said his daily training could be a predictable, even boring, affair. So, besides fishing, he has developed another interest – flying miniature helicopters – to spice up his life.
“I collect miniature helicopters but not because I have any desire to become a pilot. It started on a small scale but now I’m quite fascinated with it.
“I have even spent RM2,000 to purchase one item,” said the former student of the Ayer Putih Secondary School.
“Sometimes, I also take a motorbike ride with friends.
“No, I don’t ride like a Mat Rempit. It’s just a way to unwind.”
On days when he is confined to his room at the hostel in Bukit Jalil, Khairul will be glued to the TV watching Korean movies and serials for hours.
And his love for these shows has nothing to do with his coach being Korean.
“No, it isn’t because of my coach. Anyway, he speaks to us in excellent Malay. I like Korean movies because of the sweet melody of the language.
“It’s soft and gentle. I like it even better when a woman speaks it,” said Khairul with a wink.
He is so enamoured with the Korean language and people that his status in Facebook constantly changes to Korean names or phrases.
The recent one he had was Hyun Jae-kim, who is a male model.
“He parades clothes and wears them in style.
“I admire the way he carries himself too. I believe self-confidence is really important to determine one’s success,” he said.
Khairul knows it well because the lack of self-esteem almost saw him giving up archery.
“I was a junior at the training base in Keramat when I almost gave it up in 2010 because I thought I was going nowhere. But I received some good counsel and decided to plough on like a bull.
“I trained hard and practised and practised until I was convinced that I could succeed,” he said.
“I set a high benchmark. I told myself that I needed to shoot a score of 1,300 consistently in training or pack my bag and leave. Now, I go beyond the standard that I set for myself,” said Khairul, who hopes to strike a medal in his Olympic debut.
“We have a solid team who believe in each other.
“Hopefully, our hard work will translate into a good showing in London.”
So, with a strong mind and steely determination, Khairul and company will be fishing for the country’s first medal in archery at the Lord’s Cricket Ground from July 27-Aug 3.
Name: Khairul Anuar Mohd Date of birth: 22/9/1991
Hometown: Kemaman, Terengganu
Olympic dream: To win a medal in the recurve team event and to achieve the best score in the individual
Achievements: 2012 Asian Grand Prix individual bronze medallist, 2011 Asian Championships winner, 2011 World Cup in Shanghai silver medallist, Jakarta SEA Games team gold and individual silver.
Hobby: Fishing, miniature helicopters collector
Favourite colour: Blue, white and black
Favourite football team/sports icon: Read Madrid and Kaka
Favourite food: Wet fried noodle (specially made by mother Kalsom)
Favourite movie: Korean movies
MOST UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE: During his teen years, he was told to buy milk for his younger sister but went gallivanting and returned home after four hours. His irresponsible action caused a big commotion between his parents. He always regretted the action that almost put a strain on his parents’ relationship. Now, he does a task as soon as he is told to do it.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: Follow my heart