Shooting: World Cup win will make Martina Veloso stronger

Having shot her way to an unexpected victory at the ISSF World Cup in Munich without the burden of expectation, Martina Lindsay Veloso can now expect to be in the spotlight at future competitions.

But according to the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) and her coach, any worries over the 14-year-old's stunning success burdening her is unfounded.

SSA high performance manager Jeanine Heng said: "We have no expectations on any shooter to win every time, as even the world's best don't do that.

"We will help her put things into perspective and by next week, this competition will be put aside."

Martina's coach Lim Chea Rong sees Sunday's experience in Munich - one of the four legs of the World Cup series - as one which will benefit her protege in the long run.

She believes that it will help the teenager learn to manage her expectations for future competitions.

The young shooter is certainly keeping herself grounded, as she sets her sights on the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympic Games. She said: "I was delighted with my performance, but my scores might just drop at the next competition so I am not going to think about it too much."

Her triumph in the 10m air rifle event on Sunday was not the first success she has tasted, which gives an indication of her ability to handle pressure.

In June last year, Martina, then 13, topped the 50-strong Under-21 category of the women's 10m air rifle event at the International Junior Shooting Competition in Suhl, Germany.

At the HomeTeamNS Invitation Shoot in February last year, the Singapore Sports School (SSP) student also became the first ASEAN shooter to hit a perfect score. In order to register that, shooters have to hit the bull's eye, which measures half-a-millimetre, 40 times in a row.

However, just three years ago, Martina was making a name for herself in an entirely different sport - taekwondo. Her achievements include golds at the Schools National Taekwondo Championship (28-32kg) and in the junior poom belt U-36kg event of the National Taekwondo Kyorugi Championships.

The teenager's taekwondo coach Tan Cheng Hui said: "She had a very good attitude, and she was actually in the national taekwondo demonstration team." Martina's potential in the sport was left undeveloped though, after she stepped up her interest in shooting. But she admitted that the switch was certainly not made without reservations. She said: "I wasn't sure initially as I was just 13, and I didn't think I would compete (at an international level). "But after a few months , I realised I really like shooting. It is more about mind games, and does not depend on physical abilities, unlike most other sports."

Martina picked up shooting seriously in Secondary 1 after being offered a place in SSP through a shooting programme conducted in her primary school, Innova Primary.

Lim, a former national shooter, said: "At Primary 6, she was not among the best, but it is hard to draw the line as they have yet to develop physically.

"But she scored well in terms of our talent identification tests. She was clear about what she wanted and was determined to achieve it, aspects which made me select her over the rest."

For Martina's mother Loresa Veloso, Sunday's result came out of the blue. She said: "The result came like a bomb to us. My husband and I were both astonished by it.

"Maybe she was a bit lucky last year when she achieved a perfect score, but to win at the World Cup..."

"We have always supported her, and we will do so if she chooses to be a professional shooter."

This article was first published on June 10, 2014.
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