Olympics: Nervy Teo way below her best

Singapore's Teo Shun Xie reacting to a bad shot during the 10m air pistol qualification round at the Olympic Shooting Centre. The Olympic first timer felt fine in the warm-up but admitted that nerves got the better of her in the end.
Singapore's Teo Shun Xie reacting to a bad shot during the 10m air pistol qualification round at the Olympic Shooting Centre. The Olympic first timer felt fine in the warm-up but admitted that nerves got the better of her in the end. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Saiyidah Aisyah.
Saiyidah Aisyah.

Her 10m air pistol score of 375 gives her 37th spot, Zhang wins China's first gold in Rio at range

Nothing it seems, can prepare someone for the pressure of competing at the Olympic Games, as national shooter Teo Shun Xie found out to her cost yesterday.

The 28-year-old may be the reigning Commonwealth Games and SEA Games champion in the women's 10m air pistol but suffered a case of stage fright in the same event at the Rio Games.

She compiled scores of 93, 95, 91, 96 during the qualifying round for a total of 375 - far behind her personal best of 385 - and finished 37th of 44 participants at the National Shooting Centre.

Russian Vitalina Batsarashkina was the top qualifier with a 390 score, while in eighth position was Spain's Sonia Franquet (384). The top eight shooters progressed to the final, which Teo would have done if she had matched her PB.

Such was the standard of competition that 18 shooters scored 380 or higher. When Teo won her Commonwealth and SEA golds, her qualifying score was 377 and 378 respectively. At April's ISSF World Cup Rio leg at the same venue as yesterday's contest, Teo shot a 384 in qualifying en route to a bronze.

GO, SAIYIDAH

Delighted that Saiyidah Aisyah, Singapore's first Olympic rower, has qualified for the women's single sculls quarter-finals at #Rio2016?! It's been an extraordinary journey to the Olympics for this Sport Singapore Spex Scholar. Her next race will be on National Day, right about the time that the whole nation will be celebrating NDP at the National Stadium. We'll all be roaring for you, Saiyidah!

To all our Team Singapore athletes at the Olympics - your hard work, perseverance, and sacrifices are an inspiration to all. Do your best, and fly our flag high. We are all behind you! - LHL

MR LEE HSIEN LOONG , Prime Minister, cheering on rower Saiyidah Aisyah, who is in the single sculls quarter-finals

Wearing a rueful smile, the Olympic debutante admitted afterwards that the tension simply got the better of her yesterday morning.

"I guess you can call it Olympic nerves. The environment here is really intense, everyone is shooting well and the standard is very high.

"I didn't handle my nerves well today and made some mistakes. At the end, things started to steady down but it was too late. I'll learn from this and try my best not to repeat it for the 25m (pistol, her other event scheduled for tomorrow)."

In a sport that requires patience and zen-like stillness, demanding perfection for 40 shots in 50 minutes, the manifestation of Teo's anxieties took on several forms.

It normally takes her six to seven seconds to fire each of her allocated 40 bullets at the target but she was taking longer to aim. Her grip became tighter as the weapon shook harder in her hand from the delay.

The warning signs were clearly evident early on as her coach Zhen Tingling, sitting behind Teo's Lane 28, called a time-out after the Singaporean's sixth shot and tried unsuccessfully to calm her down.

Curiously, there was no sign of jitters leading up to the competition, Teo noted.

 

She had gone to bed at her usual time of 9pm the night before and slept peacefully, unlike her team-mate Jasmine Ser, who had a fitful night before her 10m air rifle event on Saturday.

During the 15 minute pre-shoot warm-up and sighting, nothing seemed amiss for Teo. "I felt fine, my sighting was good. But the moment they said start, everything suddenly didn't feel good and I couldn't really control myself."

What an athlete can control though, is the quest to get better. Even as China's Zhang Mengxue (with an Olympic final record of 199.4) was celebrating her gold medal in the specially-created final hall next door, Teo was back practising at the 25m outdoor range.

"I know not every competition will be smooth sailing. All I can do is learn from my mistakes and prepare as much as I can."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2016, with the headline 'Nervy Teo way below her best'. Print Edition | Subscribe