SIBU: 16-year-old recurve bow archer Desmond Ho Liang Hong wants to make it to the Johor Sukma next March when he hopes to finish on the podium.
The rising star burst into the limelight after nailing two gold medals in the Men’s Open and U-15 categories of the 14th Sarawak Open Indoor Archery Championship held in Kapit in 2018.
He was just a 14-year-old rookie then.
Today he is seeking qualification for a slot in the Johor Sukma.
The student from SMK Tiong Hin scored a total of 2596 points to finish top among the 11 contenders during the first Sukma selection trial in Miri last year.
He is among the top six – Cecil Nathaniel (2567), Liew Yu Jie (2523), Liew Yu Vui (2499), Vince Chong (2381) and Alvin Tan (2378) – who advance to the second round of the Sukma selection to be held in Kuching at the end of this year.
Only the top four will be shortlisted for Sukma.
Desmond is working hard during his daily shooting practice at the archery ranch of Sibu Division Archery Association (Pemasa Sibu) at Jalan Upper Lanang since June 17 when the country entered the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase.
“The 2nd Sukma selection trial is only about six months away and I have no time to relax.
“I need to work hard to stay positive and focus on the victory in the trial and then in the Games,” he said when contacted.
Initially a taekwondo exponent, Desmond switched to archery after he hurt his ankle in a local tournament when he was 13 years old.
It was at this point that he decided to take up archery at the coaxing of Pemasa Sibu coach Eric Tiong.
He finished fourth in the Individual Olympic Round at the 2017 MSSM National Championships held in Kelantan.
However, it was the two gold medals won in Kapit the following year that really spurred him on.
Last year, he won the gold medal in the Men’s Open and the silver in the U-15 category at the 15th Sarawak Indoor Championships in Kuching.
He went on to win the team gold medal in partnership with Alvin and Cecil at the 2019 MSSM National Championships in Penang.
At the 2019 Sarawak Games (Suksar) held in Miri he captured two silver medals in the Individual Olympic Round and team event and a bronze in the mixed team event.
Early this year, he took part in the Inter Division Schools Championships in Bintulu and secured two gold and two silver medals.
Desmond has been training in full swing despite the recent MCO and later the Conditional MCO.
“Neither the MCO nor the CMCO affected my deep passion for the sport.
“In fact during those periods, I had been training non-stop inside the compound of my house,” he revealed.
Tiong says time is on the side of the youngster.
“He has the skill and the stamina to go far and, hopefully, he can become the first archer from Sibu to represent the state in Sukma,” the coach added.