Olympics: Pressure provides motivation for Ser

Jasmine Ser with her coach Kirill Ivanov during practice at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The second-time Olympian will skip the opening ceremony tonight so that she is ready to compete in he 10m air rifle event.
Jasmine Ser with her coach Kirill Ivanov during practice at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The second-time Olympian will skip the opening ceremony tonight so that she is ready to compete in he 10m air rifle event.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN WONG

Not only is she seen as one of Singapore's medal hopes, but national shooter Jasmine Ser will also be the first Singaporean athlete in action at the Rio Games when she competes in tomorrow's 10m air rifle event.

Her performance is likely to set the tone for the rest of the Republic's contingent, which is arguably the strongest in the nation's history and tipped by many to surpass the two-medal haul from the London Games.

Yet none of this fazes the 25-year-old Ser, who shrugged off the burden and and countered that it makes her work harder.

"It's good to have the pressure," she told The Straits Times after her training on Wednesday. "If there are no expectations, you may not try as hard to do your best.

"I see pressure as something positive, it motivates me to push myself even more."

Drive has never been a problem for the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who is competing in her second Summer Games. Ser had failed to qualify for London 2012 and only competed as a wild card in the 10m event and finished 24th in a field of 56.

KNOCK-ON EFFECT

It would be very inspiring if Jasmine could win a medal. I'm sure it would motivate the rest of the Team Singapore athletes.

TEO SHUN XIE, Singapore's second shooter in Rio, who will compete in the 10m air pistol on Sunday and in the 25m pistol two days later.

Her Russian coach Kirill Ivanov, a bronze medallist at the 1988 Olympics in the 50m rifle three positions - Ser's other event in Brazil - said: "She went there and maybe didn't believe in her abilities.

"She was young and technically was still not ready."

Four years has changed that. According to the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF)'s latest world rankings, Ser is inside the top 20 for both events.

She earned her spot after winning February's Asian qualifier in New Delhi. A month later, she clinched her first medal (bronze) at the Bangkok stop of the ISSF World Cup.

The 55-year-old Ivanov, who has worked with Ser since 2011, continued with a chuckle: "But Jasmine has won many medals now and she has a lot of experience. Almost as much as me.

"Perhaps she could even win a medal of a different colour to mine."

A medal on the first full day of competition in Rio would be historic for Singapore and also provide a lift for the other 24 athletes chasing their own Olympic dreams.

Teo Shun Xie, who will compete on Sunday in the 10m air pistol and in the 25m pistol two days later, said: "It would be very inspiring if Jasmine could win a medal. I'm sure it would motivate the rest of the Team Singapore athletes."

Since arriving in Rio early last week, both shooters have been practising almost every day at the Olympic Shooting Centre, surrounded by lush hills in Rio's western suburb of the Deodoro region, home to the country's biggest military barracks.

Ser has led a regimented life for the past two years, training full-time to transform herself into a world-class competitor.

But that comes with sacrifices. She will skip tonight's opening ceremony to ensure she has sufficient rest for the big day.

The other homework has also been done.

Aware that the weather at the range in August (winter in South America) would be different from April when she was previously in Rio, Ser has been taking notes.

She said: "It was very windy on Tuesday and that's something new so it was good to shoot in those conditions. There are also more clouds overhead and that affects the lighting, which I need to get used to."

On Wednesday, with spent cartridges around her, she ended her 50m practice in lane 47 with a perfect 100 score.

She will certainly need to be on her A game when Singapore begins its medal quest in Rio.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Pressure provides motivation for Ser'. Print Edition | Subscribe