Asian Games 2018: Jakarta & Palembang, Aug 18-Sept 2

Bad start but creditable sixth

Veloso happy with improvement from Incheon and her goal is still Tokyo 2020

She picked up her fuschia air rifle, slipped it into position, and within seconds started to fire.

Standing in front of a raucous crowd at Palembang's Jakabaring International Shooting Range, Martina Veloso got five shots off in quick succession, and every one landed inside the bull's eye of a target no bigger than the nib of a pen.

This was the final of the women's 10m air rifle event at the Asian Games but, unfortunately, none of those five shots counted yesterday. Those were merely sighting shots, a warm-up if you will, for shooters ahead of the final.

The 18-year-old Singaporean struck Commonwealth Games gold in the same event in April, but she could not add to that despite that sizzling warm-up routine.

Veloso opened the final proper with a 9.3, a poor shot that left her with a mountain to climb, bowing out in sixth with a score of 164.0, but there was little shame in that.

China's Zhao Ruozhu set an Asian Games qualifying record of 631.9 and went on to claim the gold medal with another Games record (250.9) in the final.

South Korea's Jung Eun-hea (248.6) finished second, ahead of bronze medallist Nandinzaya Gankhuyag of Mongolia (227.4).

"Sixth is a good finish for me, the Asian standard is very high - with countries like China, South Korea and Iran, who are really strong in shooting - and this is an improvement from my performance at the last Asian Games in Incheon where I finished 14th," Veloso told The Straits Times yesterday.

"My sighting shots went really well, and I told myself to take those shots like competition shots, but it's hard to recreate the kind of crowd reactions and pressure that you actually feel in the final.

Martina Veloso, 18, during the women's 10m air rifle qualification at the Jakabaring International Shooting Range. She finished sixth out of eight finalists with a score of 164.
Martina Veloso, 18, during the women's 10m air rifle qualification at the Jakabaring International Shooting Range. She finished sixth out of eight finalists with a score of 164. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

"I didn't have a good start and it was mainly down to nerves. I think I did pretty well overall, but I need to take in more experiences like this, and learn."

She has her eye on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and soaking up every drop of experience she can as she dreams of Olympic glory. "It's hard to recreate (such conditions) in training, and I think I need more competitions like these to build up to my main goal," she added.

"Every competition is still important - like the SEA Games, Commonwealth Games and these Asian Games - but I'm clear that all these are just a platform for me to prepare, to get used to spectators and pressure for the Olympics."

Singapore's other shooter Jasmine Ser struggled in the middle of the six-series qualifiers, and failed to make the final, placing 13th with a score of 620.9.

Both Ser and Veloso now turn their attention to tomorrow's 50m three-positions competition - Ser's pet event - and are aiming to put all emotions from yesterday's exertions away by the time they step up to the firing point again.

"Today was one of the toughest competitions that I've been through. But I won't change anything (of my processes), and will keep a positive mindset as I prepare for the 50m three-positions event (tomorrow)," said 27-year-old Ser, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

"I've had to spread my attention to both events, but now I can finally concentrate on the 50m event."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2018, with the headline 'Bad start but creditable sixth'. Print Edition | Subscribe