C'wealth Games: Road to Brazil starts in her head

C'wealth Games: Road to Brazil starts in her head

There was no vanity in her voice, no arrogance in her talk.

It was a bold statement, but delivered simply, even zen-like.

"I think I can qualify for the Rio Olympics, and hopefully deliver the same result there," Jasmine Ser told The New Paper last night.

In the early hours of yesterday morning (Singapore time), the 23-year-old shooter struck gold at the Commonwealth Games in the 50-metre rifle three position event.

In the final event of the shooting competition in Glasgow, Ser set two Games' records en route to victory - scoring 581 points in the qualifiers and 449.1 in the final (all scores are reset before the final).

It is the second successive Games where she will return home in triumph, after striking gold in the 10m air rifle in Delhi four years ago.

Ser is full of confidence now.

Long touted as a unique talent, she is a member of the SpexScholarship programme, which affords elite Singapore athletes support as they strive to hit the heights.

But Ser's confidence was as much forged in failure as it has been in success.

She finished 29th out of a field of 46 in the 10m air rifle at the 2012 London Olympics with a score of 577.

That is her pet event, but she also fumbled in it in Glasgow, finishing fourth and failing to defend her 2010 title.

SECRET

Somewhere in all that lies the secret to the mind of a good shooter, according to the Singapore star.

"You can't be too happy when you win, nor too sad when you lose," said Ser, who showed exactly how it was done.

She failed in her pet event, but bounced right back to win gold in the 50m 3P.

"I just felt relieved when I won. It wasn't even redemption after losing out in the 10m. I wasn't really disappointed after the 10m - I couldn't be disappointed - I just closed that chapter and moved on to the 50m," she said. "In competition, you just do what you need to do."

In shooting, the aim is to still the mind and calm the body before firing at just the right time.

The shooters are often bereft of expression, giving nothing away, and when they win, there are smiles and perhaps hugs, but never the histrionics seen elsewhere.

But Ser insists the end goal is not to be cold and emotionless, like an assassin.

In methodical fashion, she explained: "It is to be mentally strong, not emotionless: forget your mistakes, don't brood on failure, focus on processes and move on."

And that is her plan to get to Brazil, and win.

"Even when I win, I look at what I need to improve on. But I forget what I did wrong and focus on what I need to get right," said Ser, who will train full-time in her bid to get to Rio.

She will do battle in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships next month, and then bring her rifle to the Incheon Asian Games (Sept 19 to Oct 4).

Next year will be big for her, as Singapore hosts the South-east Asia Games in June, while the 2015 ISSF World Cup events will serve as qualifiers for the Rio Olympics.

But Ser said: "It is getting easier.

"As I take part in more competitions, I learn more things and I get more mature in my approach. And I pay closer attention to things that I need to get right."

While honing technical skills is vital to good shooting, and will form a key part of her training routine, Ser insists that it is the mind that determines a champion shooter.

"Before the Commonwealth Games, I told myself that I am confident, that I can win, and I focused on all the processes to get me there.

"I'm pleased that I proved myself right, and that it worked," said Ser, matter-of-factly.

"From now till Rio, the aim is to keep doing that, but the biggest challenge lies in the mind," she added, pointing to the new system of scoring that sees qualification scores reset before the start of the finals of shooting events.

"No matter how well or how badly you do in the qualifiers, everything goes to zero before the final starts.

"You need to be able to forget, and then to focus."

You can't be too happy when you win, nor too sad when you lose... you just do what you need to do. - Jasmine Ser, on the mindset of a good shooter C'WEALTH GAMES


This article was first published on July 31, 2014.
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