Shooters take low profile approach

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian team were a poor shot at the previous Asian Games in Indonesia. None of their seven shooters made it to the final round.

Yet of the current team to Hangzhou, six are from Category A: Johnathan Wong, Haritz Iklil Hessly Hafiz, Alia Sazana Azahari, Bibiana Ng, Nurul Syasya Nadiah Mohd Arifin and Nur Suryani Taibi.

This means they are ranked among the top four in Asia and are fully funded by the NSC. This means they have a fighting chance for a medal.

Only four — Bernard Yeoh, Joseph Lee, Alia Husna Budruddin and Joseline Cheah — are from Category B whereby they will only be reimbursed if they win a medal.

But the shooters have not been set a high target for the Hangzhou Asiad. Despite 33 gold medals on offer in the sport, the Malaysia team are not bold enough to say they want at least one bronze.

"We have not set any specific medal targets for our shooters. We focus first on getting them to reach the final round (top eight)," said coach Zubair Mohammad.

The shooters are aided by simulation, biomechanical analysis and data analytics apart from international exposure for the Hangzhou mission.

On the venue, the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre Shooting Range, Zubair said it could be challenging due to its geographical location.

"From info, the shooting range could be windy due to the landscape as it sits nearby a hilly area," said Zubair.

"The wind could pose a challenge aside from the strong opponents. But this will not deter us. The conditions will make the competition interesting."

Team manager Gan Kong Leong said the shooters face restrictions in bringing firearms into China.

"China is the strictest of the lot. There are procedures and declarations to be made, there are items we can't pack together. We have to inform the airlines of how many guns and ammunition.

"Hopefully, the team can perform well against 45 countries. There will be some world-class shooters.

"It's not fair to say that our athletes don't have a chance. I want them to go out there and give their best," said Kong Leong.

Among those who may compete at the Asian Games and have qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic are China's world No. 3 Yang Haoran (men's 10m air rifle), India's world No. 6 Akhil Sheoran (men's 50m rifle 3 positions) and Taiwan's world No. 9 Tien Chia Chen (women's 25m pistol).

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