SEA Games 2015: Trio give Singapore a shot in the arm

SEA Games 2015: Trio give Singapore a shot in the arm
Nigel Lim, Gai and Poh Lip Meng banked on their long partnership since 2009 to clinch Singapore’s first gold medal at the outdoor range – in the men’s 50m pistol team – in these SEA Games.

After four days of watching their Singapore team-mates narrowly miss out on golds in eight events at the National Shooting Centre, it was the veteran shooters of the men's 50m pistol team who finally landed the elusive metal yesterday.

Gai Bin, Nigel Lim and Poh Lip Meng - who have been winning as a team since 2009 - regrouped after a third-place finish in Sunday's 10m air pistol competition at Safra Yishun to pip Vietnam to the team gold yesterday.

They scored a combined 1,632 points over 180 shots, beating Sunday's gold-medal winners by six points. Myanmar were third with 1,615 points.

Coincidentally, the Singapore trio also began their fruitful partnership by winning gold in the same event at the 2009 SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos.

"It was exciting, as Vietnam was chasing close behind us, so we were a bit worried," said Poh, who added that the team events have become increasingly competitive over the years.

The pressure mounted towards the end of their qualification round. Both countries' shooters would often take their time to shoot, enticing the unusually raucous audience to break into cheers more frequently.

Even the seasoned Singapore trio - who have taken on the SEA Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games together - admitted to feeling the pressure.

Said Lim: "We just performed what we could, (taking it) shot by shot... When the results showed the win, we were very happy."

Individually, however, the team's shooters missed out on the medals. Gai finished an agonising fourth after shooting a 10.7, then a 6.9, while on the brink of elimination. Poh and Lim placed sixth and eighth respectively.

Although all three shooters insisted that they were not affected by the crowd, a couple of abysmal scores - a 5.5 and a 6.4 for Poh, for example - became their undoing.

Still, Poh said: "People are cheering for the team so it's a good spectator sport now."

As a team, they believe that their combined experience would usually put them in medal contention.

"I think we know that we are behind each other," said Lim, who dedicated his gold to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister.

"We (just have to) make sure that everything is going according to what we have trained for, and knowing that together we are stronger, we just stay focused."

With the first gold at the outdoor range scored on the penultimate day of competition, the victorious trio are tipping their fellow shooters to reap more golds in today's six events, insisting: "There's more to come."

A gold could also have come yesterday from the women's 25m pistol team but they missed out by a mere point.

After a technical issue left defending individual champion Nicole Tan to fire her last five shots solo, her team-mates Teh Xiu Hong and Teo Shun Xie watched their final score come just a single point short of winners Thailand (1,737 points).

Teh also made it to the gold medal shoot-off, only to lose 1-7 to Malaysia's Alia Sazana Azahari and settle for silver.

"The competition standard is much higher this year," said Tan.

"We'll have to do a lot more for the next SEA Games. Hopefully, it won't be so close next time."

This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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