Shooting: No shot at title defence for Teo Shun Xie

Teo Shun Xie finished third in the 25m pistol selections and fourth in the 10m air pistol trials, failing to qualify for this year's SEA Games.
Teo Shun Xie finished third in the 25m pistol selections and fourth in the 10m air pistol trials, failing to qualify for this year's SEA Games.ST FILE PHOTO

The 10m air pistol champion did not make the selection cut for two events

She is the reigning Commonwealth Games and SEA Games 10m air pistol champion, but national shooter Teo Shun Xie will not be able to defend her crown at next month's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The 28-year-old Olympian did not make the cut based on the Singapore Shooting Association's (SSA) selection policy, as other shooters fared better than her.

Teo, who also won a team silver with Teh Xiu Hong and Nicole Tan in the 25m pistol at the 2015 SEA Games here, had been gunning for a place in the 10m air pistol and 25m pistol events.

Only two slots are up for grabs in each discipline. No team events will feature at the Aug 19-30 Games.

The Singapore shooting team's high performance manager Jeanine Heng told The Straits Times that Teo was the third-ranked shooter after two phases of selections for the 25m pistol event, just missing out on the top two spots.

For the 10m air pistol trials, she came in fourth in the first phase of selections (January to April).

Only the top three shooters advanced to the second phase (May to June).

SHOOTING FOR THE STARS

It bodes well (for Singapore shooting) because there's new talent coming up, and they will get the opportunity to compete in major Games.''

JEANINE HENG, Singapore shooting team's high performance manager, on why there is a positive future for shooting.

Teo's team-mate Tessa Neo, a double gold-medallist (10m air rifle individual and team) at the last Games, did not make the cut for the Kuala Lumpur Games as well.

While Heng acknowledged that the outcome of the selection trials was "sad" for the defending champions, she noted that there are positives to be drawn - both for the sport and for the athletes.

"It bodes well (for Singapore shooting) because there's new talent coming up, and they will get the opportunity to compete in major Games," she said.

Pistol shooter Phaedra Tan will make her SEA Games debut in Kuala Lumpur, and Heng believes the biennial event is ideal for blooding newcomers.

"If they don't get to take part in such competitions, they will not gain enough experience to go for the Asian Games and the Olympics," she explained.

"The SEA Games may be (considered) a lower-level competition, but there's still the pressure of having your country and other countries watching you, and this is the best time to feel this pressure (for the first time)."

Referring to two-time Olympian Jasmine Ser and national women's 10m air rifle record holder Martina Veloso, Heng added: "It just goes to show that SSA has reached a point where we have choices and I think the shooters - even Jasmine and Martina - recognise that it's not a sure thing that they will be selected.

"It just pushes everyone to do better because they know if they don't, someone else is going to come and take over the position."

Teo and Neo declined comment, but Heng is confident they will recover well from the disappointment to focus on their efforts to qualify for next year's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

Teo still has the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in her sights, said Heng, and one failed SEA Games qualification attempt is by no means the end of the road for her and 19-year-old Neo.

Heng added: "They will learn from this experience and move forward - I think the disappointment will make them stronger, hardier athletes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'No shot at games defence for Teo after tough trials'. Print Edition | Subscribe