C'wealth Games: Ser trains her sights even higher

SINGAPORE - After winning gold for the first time in four years, Singapore shooter Jasmine Ser is ready to prove her appetite for bigger challenges at the upcoming world championships and Asian Games.

In the very last event of the Commonwealth Games shooting competition on Tuesday, the 23-year-old ensured her luggage would include a gold medal.

Victory in the women's 50m rifle three-positions event actually brought more relief than joy to the usually reticent shooter, who rested her head on her trusty weapon and broke into a wide grin following an intense battle with Scotland's Jen McIntosh.

"For the first time this week - actually, for the first time in quite a while, everything went right for me," said Ser, who had earlier finished a painful fourth in the 10m air rifle and 15th in the 50m rifle prone finals.

"This is such a big vindication of the time and effort I've dedicated to the sport over the years, and a sweet confidence boost to go for more medals at upcoming competitions."

The National University of Singapore business graduate had to deal with Scotland's unpredictable weather, as well as the expected fanatical support for home favourite McIntosh.

Strong winds at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre meant competitors had to think on their feet at the outdoor range as they fired from three positions - kneeling, prone and standing - with a .22 calibre long rifle.

"You are constantly having to make mental calculations and recalibrating because of the changing wind speed and direction," said Ser, who claimed a silver in the same event four years ago, one of four medals she had won in New Delhi.

Ser used to struggle in kneeling, an uncomfortable position for most shooters due to the need for extra equipment like an additional sling and another set of sights.

But since entering full-time training earlier this year, the 2010 Asian Games silver medallist worked on achieving the right balance from resting on her right foot - and it showed.

She set a new Commonwealth Games record score of 581 in the qualifiers, maintaining her consistency until the last shot of the final.

Her final tally of 449.1 - ahead of McIntosh's 446.6 - was also classified as a Games record owing to a new scoring system.

Singapore chef de mission Low Teo Ping said: "Jasmine's medal is the most satisfying one we've won so far in Glasgow because she beat a Scot to it.

"Plus, it ensured our shooters, particularly our women, ended the competition on a high."

Teo Shun Xie won Singapore's other shooting medal, a gold in the women's 10m air pistol on the first day of competition.

The 14-year-old schoolgirl Martina Lindsay Veloso also impressed, taking fifth place in the 10m air rifle.

But SEA Games gold medallist Nicole Tan failed to make the final in the 10m air pistol and 25m pistol events.

For the men, Gai Bin's fourth place in the 50m pistol was the closest they came to challenging for a podium spot.

It is a far cry from four years ago, when the shooters accounted for 14 of the contingent's 31 medal-haul in New Delhi, where Gai alone had a hand in seven medals.

In Glasgow, the new scoring format - preliminary results are not carried forward into the final - and the absence of team events hurt the Republic's medal prospects.

Said Thomas Soo, high performance chairman of the Singapore Shooting Association: "The whole team needs to learn from this valuable experience, to train harder and focus on the future.

"There is still a lot of hard work to be done in dealing with the athletes' nerves and expectations.

"We need to make sure we don't just want to get into the finals, but also take the opportunity to win it."

Ser did just that, though she refused to attribute it to feeling the heat from her fast-rising compatriots.

She said: "Shun Xie is good, Martina is even better - there's no point in me trying to steal the limelight from them.

"I'm just glad to return to winning ways. I want to build on this and see how far it takes me."


This article was first published on July 31, 2014.
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