Zain Amat would rather not know how his competitors are performing.
At the men's trap qualifications yesterday, the 40-year-old was concentrating on getting his shots on the clay targets launched from a machine in a trench in front of him.
Keeping his head down, Zain looked at the ground to maintain his focus, choosing not to glance at his fellow shooters. And it worked - the 2007 SEA Games individual gold medallist performed the best among 15 competitors with 116 points.
His team-mates, 2005 individual gold medallist Choo Choon Seng and debutant Lin Hejun, scored 116 and 111 points respectively.
With a combined score of 343, the trio won Singapore's first SEA Games team gold in eight years and the 12th such gold for Singapore since the 1975 edition.
Clay shooting, including the trap and skeet events, did not feature at the last three Games because hosts Myanmar, Indonesia and Laos did not have a large enough range.
As a result, trap shooting as a competitive sport is not as popular among shooters in Singapore as rifle shooting.
"But the shooting never stops," said Zain, who is a police officer. "There's also the World Cup, World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games."
After winning the team gold, Zain and Choo moved on to the semi-finals in the individual event. While Choo did not progress further, Zain shot enough targets to qualify for the bronze-medal match against Eric Ang, eventually beating the Filipino 13-10.
For Zain, though, his crosshairs have always been trained on winning for the team rather than on individual glory.
"Our target was actually the team gold medal more than the individual, because it's always the country first," he said.
Vietnam's Le Nghia won the individual gold, beating Malaysia's Chen Seong Fook 12-10 in the gold-medal match.
Zain, who has more than 10 years of competitive shooting under his belt, hopes the team's gold medal will attract young Singaporeans to the sport.
He said: "We are willing to coach young shooters for free. We just want to impart our knowledge and skills. Everyone grows old some day and we need young blood. This is a sport that Singapore can win (medals) in."
The final day of the shooting competition yesterday also saw Singapore's women shooters taking a team bronze in the 50m rifle three positions.
Jasmine Ser, Li Yafei and Cheng Jian Huan had a combined score of 1,710, while Thailand won gold with 1,735 points and Malaysia were second with 1,718.
Ser, who is a 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, made a surprise exit in the qualification round. The 24-year-old was ranked ninth out of 14 competitors and missed out on the semi-finals by one point.
"I'm not exactly happy with how I did today, but I tried my best," she said.
"I think my body is clearly tired from travelling and competing. Now is the time to rest and recover because I'm set on my next journey to qualify for the Olympics again."
Ser won a gold and silver in the women's team and individual air rifle 10m events respectively, and bronzes in the 50m rifle prone team and individual events.
This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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