Shoot-off sensation Khairul Anuar storms into third round

TOKYO: National archer Khairul Anuar Mohamad was the coolest man in the heat of battle here when he won the one-arrow shoot-off twice with perfect 10s to march into the third round of the men’s recurve individual event at the Tokyo Olympics today.

The 29-year-old, who is ranked 15th in the world, found himself staring at two equally dramatic one-arrow shoot-offs after being tied at 5-5 with his first- and second-round opponents at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field here.

In the first round this morning, Khairul Anuar found himself trailing 3-5 heading into the fifth and final set against Finland’s Antti Vikstrom.

But the Malaysian enjoyed a huge slice of luck when the Finnish archer’s bow broke during the fifth set, which rattled him. Khairul Anuar, however, kept his cool to do the needful and win the set to tie the score at 5-5.

In the one arrow shoot-off, the Finn shot a nine, and Khairul Anuar, needing a 10 to advance, did just that with aplomb.

Then, in the second round, it was Khairul Anuar who went 5-3 up against China’s Wang Dapeng before the latter won the fifth set to make it 5-5 and force a shoot-off.

The same scenario unfolded. Wang Dapeng shot a nine, meaning Khairul Anuar needed to shoot a 10, again.

Guess what? The Malaysian managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat one more time!

Khairul Anuar, who lost in the second round during the 2016 Rio edition, is scheduled to compete in the third round on Saturday (July 31).

Khairul Anuar said he was grateful to have qualified for the third round despite having to go through two suspenseful shoot-offs and admitted that he still has a lot to improve on ahead of his third-round matchup.

Alhamdulillah, I won both my matches today although they both into shoot-offs. However, I did not perform that well because my focus was off as I was a little distracted. For my third-round match, I need to be more focused,” he said.

Khairul Anuar admitted that luck was on his side in his first-round match when the Finnish archer’s bow broke in the fifth and final set, with the Malaysian trailing 3-5.

“In today’s action, it’s impossible for me to say I didn’t feel the pressure. But if I can be 100 percent focused on shooting (the arrows), whatever the pressure or wind conditions, InsyaAllah, I can overcome them.

“I have to say Lady Luck was smiling on me to advance to the second round when my opponent’s bow broke.

“In the second round, I began well in the first three sets before losing my focus in the fourth and fifth sets. In the shoot-off, my coach told me to be more focused when shooting the arrow and, Alhamdulillah, I did it!” he said.

Khairul Anuar now hopes to be more focused in the third round on Saturday (July 31) so as to book a place in the quarter-finals. – Bernama