Young guns get a shot at games

Young guns get a shot at games
SEA Games 2015 ebutants (from left) Wong Ting Wei, Wesley Leong and Royce Chan. Beneficiaries of a youth development scheme, they will contest the 10m air rifle men’s category.

Martina Lindsay Veloso is a shooting champion with a self-professed obsession with control and details, such is the nature of her sport, but one thing she cannot tinker with is the force of nature.

So when the 15-year-old grew 3cm in the past year, the now 1.58m-tall athlete said she had no choice but to go through a complete overhaul of her shooting posture and routine.

The shooting stand had to be re-adjusted. Weights had to be added to her weapon because she is stronger now. On paper, it seemed to have slowed her as the Singapore Sports School student - who struck gold at the ISSF World Cup in Munich last year - had to contend with being a reserve 10m air rifle shooter at the recent World Cup in South Korea.

But ahead of June's SEA Games, Martina is confident she can overcome these "growing pains" to do well.

She told The Straits Times: "I changed my routine in January and it wasn't easy. But I think I'm coping well.

"It's a little more pressure shooting at home but I can't keep thinking about all these (factors).

"I just want to do well for the nation and myself."

Her burgeoning reputation also means having to contend with being a marked woman at meets.

She now gets "weird stares" and "people pointing at me" but said: "I'm learning to ignore all these. I focus on the positives and try to enjoy myself."

The teenager is part of a youthful 29-strong squad for the SEA Games unveiled by the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) yesterday.

Of the 29, 10 are making their debuts at a major games.

But this has not deterred the SSA from aiming for a six-gold target, a big leap from the solitary gold bagged at the last Games.

Said SSA high performance chief Dr Thomas Soo: "This is the effort of the SSA over the past five to 10 years. Youth development is (crucial to) the future of any sport.

"The (young shooters) are expected to deliver. Nobody goes to the major games for experience."

Among the newcomers are the three men's 10m air rifle shooters, Royce Chan, 16, Wesley Leong, 21, and Wong Ting Wei, 16, graduates of the national youth team.

Royce, a Hwa Chong Institution student who recently won the National Schools Shooting Championship A Division 10m air rifle title, said: "We're looking forward to shooting at home. There's definitely more pressure but that's what we train for, learning how to put all that aside."

At the other end of the spectrum are seasoned campaigners like Jasmine Ser, 24, and Gai Bin, 47, who will be expected to contribute to the medal haul.

Ser, a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, said: "I've had more time to train after being offered the Spex Scholarship and that's a good thing.

"But I'm not thinking about the medals, to speak the truth. My goal is the Rio Olympics and the SEA Games is a good meet for me to improve and (be) consistent."

Gai, who bagged two bronzes at last year's Asian Games, said: "The two medals at the Asiad lifted a weight off my shoulders. Comparatively, it's less difficult to (win a) medal at the SEA Games. It's about who gets the details right and I'll try my best to do that."

Our shooters

Pistol (men): Gai Bin, Lim Swee Hon, Poh Lip Meng

Pistol (women): Nicole Tan, Teo Shun Xie, Teh Xiu Hong

Rifle (men): Royce Chan, Wesley Leong, Wong Ting Wei, Ong Jun Hong, Abel Lim, Lim Zhong Xian

Rifle (women): Cheng Jian Huan, Jasmine Ser, Li Yafei, Martina Lindsay Veloso, Tessa Neo

Shotgun (men): David Chan, Eugene Chiew, Low Jiang Hao, Choo Choon Seng, Lin Hejun, Mohd Zain Amat

This article was first published on April 27, 2015.
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