For 16 months, over six countries and across three continents, a quest for an elusive place at the Olympic Games yielded nothing but near misses and heartache for Jasmine Ser.
Yesterday, it finally bore fruit. The shooter earned a ticket to the Aug 5-21 Rio Olympics after posting a score of 458.0 to win the 50m three-positions (3P) event at the Asian qualifier in New Delhi.
Team-mate Teo Shun Xie also earned a place in the 25m air pistol event, making this the first time since 1964 that Singapore will have two shooters represented at the Olympics. It is also the first time that two have qualified on merit.
For Ser, it was sweet reward - for soldiering on despite the bad case of food poisoning she has battled through the past week, and also for each time she fought to put disappointment behind her.
She admits that the qualifying process felt like a test of her limits. Several times, she came agonisingly close, only to come up short.
EASY PATH NOT NECESSARILY BETTER
It's been a very nurturing journey. If I had got my place from the start, I might be overconfident, and would not be training as much as I did until now. It has helped me become better.
''JASMINE SER, Singapore shooter, on her bid to qualify for the Rio Games.
The 25-year-old, who was still weak, having avoided food and medication for fear of it affecting her performance, told The Straits Times yesterday: "This whole journey has been a long and tiring one."
At the 2014 World Championships in Spain, she qualified for a final on that stage for the first time, finishing seventh. Just one placing higher and she would have made the Olympics.
At the World Cup in South Korea last April, she was also one position away from that coveted ticket (in the 10m air rifle). At the Fort Benning World Cup leg in the United States, all she had to do to qualify was make the final - she did not. On Friday, she again came close in the 10m air rifle, but was eliminated early in the final.
She was her most dejected in Azerbaijan last August, when she was just one point away from making the final. It meant New Delhi was make-or-break.
But as trying as it has been, the 2012 London Olympian says she has learnt precious lessons. "It's been a very nurturing journey," she said. "If I had got my place from the start, I might be overconfident, and would not be training as much as I did until now. It has helped me become better and stronger."
Going into the last changeover yesterday after shooting in the kneeling and prone positions, another painful miss had looked on the cards as Ser lay in fourth place, with only three spots up for grabs. But she shot herself into the lead after the first series in the standing position, and never looked back.
She said: "This competition was one of the toughest I've had to go through. I was so sick. They say adversity brings out the best in man, and I guess it's true. I wanted it so much this time. Nothing could've stopped me.
"The 3P is where my strength lies now. I should and will place more focus on it going forward."
Iran's Mahlagha Jambozorg and South Korean Lee Kye Rim earned the other two spots.
While Ser went into her event yesterday aware of how well she had to do to make the Rio cut, team-mate Teo was completely oblivious.
"I had no clue," said the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion, who will be competing in her first Olympics. She finished sixth in the 25m pistol event, but well enough to be one of the three eligible for an Olympic spot.
"Subconsciously I guess I don't want to know, just in case you give yourself more pressure. I wanted to treat it like it was any competition where you go all out just to win."