Swimming: Ser has crucial Kuwait date

Swimming: Ser has crucial Kuwait date
(From left to right) SEA Games chef de mission Dr Tan Eng Liang, chief executive of Tote Board Fong Yong Kian, shooters Jasmine Ser, Tessa Neo and Martina Veloso receiving their rewards for winning the women's 10m air rifle team gold at June's SEA Games, Minister for Social and Family Development and SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and MCCY Minister Lawrence Wong at the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) Awards ceremony on 26 August 2015.

She missed out on Olympic qualification for the 50m rifle by one spot when she finished sixth at the ISSF World Championships in Granada, Spain, last year.

Three weeks before this year's South-east Asia Games here in June, Jasmine Ser once again missed booking a spot for the 2016 Olympics, when she finished seventh overall at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, with the top five qualifying for the Rio Games.

Two weeks ago, at the ISSF World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan, Ser, the country's biggest shooting star, missed out again in her third attempt, finishing 10th and losing out on a place in the finals by an agonising "inner 10" on the target.

They say patience is a virtue, and Ser, who was rewarded for being part of the women's 10m air rifle team that won gold at the SEA Games through the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) Awards last night, can definitely attest to that.

"Patience is applicable in any sport, but especially so in shooting," said the 24-year-old, who was crowned Sportswoman of the Year earlier this month.

"When you're not doing well, that's when it's really important. You have to keep working at improving all the time.


"Once you get frustrated and complain, you're not working - this can't be taught, it's something you learn along the way."

Ser teamed up with Tessa Neo and Martina Lindsay Veloso to win SEA Games gold this year and the trio will share the $15,000 reward they received last night.

She had an impressive 2014, especially at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games where she set a record en route to gold in the 50m three positions. She also finished fourth at the 2014 Asian Games 10m air rifle and 50m three positions.

She first revealed her special talent at just 17 years old in 2006, when she bagged a silver medal in the 10m air rifle at the Asian Games in Doha.

Ser and Martina will have one last chance to qualify for next year's Olympics this November at the Asian Shooting Championships in Kuwait.

If she makes it to Brazil, it will be her second Games, having also competed in 2012 in London, where she finished 24th and 29th in the 10m air rifle and 50m rifle respectively.

"The 2012 Olympics was a real eye opener for me. It was very different from normal shooting competitions," said Ser, who trains six times a week for an average of seven hours a day.

"The atmosphere, the crowd; that day shooting actually became a spectator sport.

"So at the next Olympics, I'll know what to expect. Everything I do now is all working towards that."

For 15-year-old Martina, a place in Rio will be a bonus at this juncture of her career.

The teenager had a breakthrough 2014 which saw her compete in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Youth Olympic Games, where she won a silver in the 10m air rifle.

After winning her first SEA Games gold medal in June, she was named Sportsgirl of the Year in 2014.

"My main goal is the 2020 Olympics. Rio will be a bonus for me, but I'd like to be there to get a first-hand experience," said Martina, who finished 36th at the most recent ISSF World Cup in Azerbaijan.

"I didn't do too well at the last event. I think I let the pressure get to me. The Asian Champs in Kuwait is our last chance, so I'll just have to push all distractions aside and focus."

We have seen new milestones set by our athletes such as Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen since the SEA Games. Well done, and I hope it inspires more athletes to aspire to greater things.

This article was first published on August 27, 2015.
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