|The quarter-finals at 2017 Thailand Princess Cup|
It's Sunday, our last night in Bangkok. I woke up at 4 am in the morning. Couldn't sleep and it felt like the weight of the world was on my chest.
Michelle, coach Lau and I made it to the 1/32 elimination round. Our match was scheduled at 9 am. Still, with hours to burn, all I had in mind was pushing the limits. We trained like hell and came this far. There's really no letting down. Even with the qualifier points on hand, I was not disappointed.
|Enjoying a local breakfast before heading off to the tournament venue...|
I was paired with a barebow archer who was ranked 17th in the tournament. We shot at lane number 5. The guy was very decent. "Hello, I'm Montri," he introduced himself. The Thais are extremely polite people with excellent sportsmanship, well, at least most of them are... Hahah! Montri said he felt hot and was actually sweating. The air-conditioning in the Fashion Island Mall didn't really kick-in. It can get really cold in full-blast. My opponent was using a vintage takedown recurve bow. I think he did really well the year before and it was really an honour to shoot along with such a classy archer. "It's not easy shooting a hunting bow like yours," he said. That's a little mind game going on, but I didn't let it bother me. All I had in mind, was beating myself.
"Did you know, you will be meeting the guy next to you if you win this match," he added. Montri was referring to Khun Yuttana, who won the Pre-Princess Cup barebow match a week earlier. Yuttana was ranked 17th during the qualifiers.
In the best of five during the Olympic Round, Montri took the first end. The second-end belonged to me and subsequently, after leading 4-2, my friendly opponent began to falter. He made a couple of mistakes. It was costly.
|Getting ready for action!|
|With Jeffery Pang from Penang and last year's champion Ang See Chuan|
|The confident Yuttana (left) is a strong contender|
|Doing my part at the 1/16 rounds|
|A good fight: at the end of the 1/16 match with Khun Yuttana|
After slugging it out with Montri, it was time to meet Yuttana, he was the champion barebow archer at the Pre-Princess Cup tournament.
We had at least 30-minutes of rest and I took the time off to reflect. This is as far as I have pushed my Hoyt Satori takedown recurve bow. Most of the trad shooters at this point has been eliminated by the barebow archers.
I had a little bit of time to put a few arrows on the practice target bud before heading onto the shooting line to meet Yuttana. On qualification day, I was actually introduced to him by my lane mate.
Yuttana shot with a Gillo G-1 barebow riser. Every archer's bow tells a story, and this one is really illuminating.
In the first end, Yuttana took the match, earning two points. I was down to zero.
When the buzzer rang, that two minutes felt like an eternity.
I had the jitters, I waited for Yuttana to make his first shot. In the second end, I landed an arrow on the innermost ring. Two others landed next to it. I couldn't believe it! Two "9s" and a "10".
When we picked up the arrow to score our points, I could see Yuttana's disbelief. We were even.
He took the third end with one extra point. It was close. Being a better archer, Yuttana won the 1/16 round by 6-2. Clearly, he was dominant. In the 1/8 round, Yuttana lost to last year's champion Ang See Chuan 6-0.
|With Tuan Suhairi representing Malaysia Cup|
|Rewarding ourselves with an awesome lunch|
I went back to the archer's ready room to pack up. Michelle gave me a pat on my shoulder. "You did well!" she said. I guess the Thais were surprised that some Malaysian dude had given them a run for their money. This year round, I must say the standards have gone up. There were more archers shooting beyond 200 points during qualification rounds. And the Thais are really good. After a good day shooting, we stepped out to the Promenade mall which is located nearby for a good lunch. We had a lot to celebrate. Moving up three or four notches was not entirely impossible. Our training regime had worked.
|Michelle with Col Supin flanked by Jeff|
|Ang, the reigning barebow champ sharing a light moment with Malaysian archers|
|Ang (second from left) met Supin (centre) during the finals|
|The regular singing dude|
|With Khun Tatrawee (second from left) at the end of the event|
I overheard some gossip at the ready room that goes: "If Singapore finishes 1-2 during the barebow finals, there will be a big party..."
It was amazing. The Singaporeans came prepared. They have been at it since 2014 and really have no reasons to falter. The best archer among the lot is Ang See Chuan. He had literally bulldozed his way through the tournament. Singapore's other hope was Chan Tat Kin (ranked 11th). He was knocked out during the quarter-finals. It was up to Ang to lift the spirits of his comrades.
Col Supin, who was ranked 2nd at the tournament, met with Ang (ranked 1st) at the finals. It was a close and tight match. Ang was confident and calm throughout the match. Supin, on the other hand, did show that he was shaken.
As the match drew to a draw at the end of five ends, the judge called for a one arrow shoot-off.
Compared to the previous year finals, this year's match was really exciting. Both men were equally matched. Ang shot first and landed his arrow on a "9". Right before he placed his arrow on the bow, Supin asked a guy in the crowd (entertainer Apisit "Joeyboy" Opasaimlimkit) to pick an arrow. As soon as it was nocked and drawn, Supit shot a perfect "10", the arrow was dead-centre. And the day belonged to Thailand. Ang, a true gentleman, shoot Supin's hand. For us, it was all over. Time to head back to our range, train harder for next year.
The event ended with a prize presentation and a "thank you" party by the organiser. We headed back to our hotel later and treated ourselves to an awesome dinner. To me, it was money well-spent. We shot our way to the 1/16 elimination rounds. This gave us motivation to do even better next year.
As soon as the dust settled, it was time to head back to Kuala Lumpur and deal with reality. Its back to the crunch and lesser range time. The next big thing is in October at the UPM open tournament. Barebow is being introduced for the first time. On the sidelines, there are smaller "kampung" tournaments for us to take part. Michelle and I are mulling the IBC tournament in December where barebow matches are a regular fixture. Till then, its time to improve on our form and cosistency...