askST@NLB: An eye on perfection as Ser aims for the sky

At the askST@NLB session, national shooter Jasmine Ser gives a glimpse into what life is like as a world-class athlete.
National shooter Jasmine Ser and The Straits Times assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath speaking at askST@NLB at the Central Public Library yesterday. Ser shared with the 150 readers about the pressures of being an athlete, and also about how she w
National shooter Jasmine Ser and The Straits Times assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath speaking at askST@NLB at the Central Public Library yesterday. Ser shared with the 150 readers about the pressures of being an athlete, and also about how she was a myopic and that she is a leftie who shoots right-handed.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The maximum score a shooter can achieve with an air rifle is 10.9. During training, national shooter Jasmine Ser is given a target of 52.5 for a set of five shots, and she must achieve this for eight sets.

Sometimes she misses by less than a hair's breadth and records a 52.4, and her Russian coach Kirill Ivanov would "close one eye" and consider it a pass.

But Ser, never a shrinking violet, would turn down her coach's goodwill and continue pursuing the 52.5. It can take her an extra five minutes, or an extra hour.

Yesterday, at askST@NLB, the 28-year-old, a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, gave a glimpse into what life is like as a world-class athlete.

The talk at the Central Public Library in Victoria Street, attended by 150 readers, was conducted by The Straits Times assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath.

To let the audience get a feel of how tough Ser's sport is, Brijnath handed out paper targets to demonstrate how tiny the 10.9 target is from 10 metres.

Ser also enthralled the crowd with lesser-known nuggets such as how she was actually a myopic shooter and only later on had laser eye surgery to correct her vision, and that she is a leftie who shoots right-handed. She was candid as she shared about the pressure, fear and doubt she faces in her quest for Olympic glory.

Ser said: "As I grow older, I can really feel the difference as it becomes more difficult to command my body. But I have also learnt about mindfulness and relaxation techniques which have helped me.

"I feel pressure is something imaginary that can be good or bad. It is a matter of how you utilise it. For me, pressure makes me better, sharper and more focused."

Ending the 90-minute talk, Brijnath encouraged Singaporeans to show up at sports competitions to lend their support to local athletes.

Ser added: "Athletes need validation and affirmation from their fellow countrymen to push us to greater heights."

The talk was streamed live on the Rings.TV application, which had more than 600 views. The video can be replayed via the app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, or Google Play Store.

Mihir Shrivastava, a 49-year-old trader, felt he got to know more about the inner workings of a top athlete's mind.

He said: "It was nice to get to learn what they go through, and the kind of discipline required to reach the top. What struck me most about Jasmine was that there was no trace of negativity about her. Be it sickness, myopia or poor results, she was able to channel the challenges she faced into positivity."

The askST@NLB series is a monthly collaboration between the National Library Board and ST in which ST journalists helm discussions on topics.

The next session on March 29 will be moderated by ST news editor Zakir Hussain, who will discuss details of the Merdeka Generation Package with Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor and Permanent Secretary for Health Chan Heng Kee. Readers may register at str.sg/askZakir

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'An eye on perfection as Ser aims for the sky'. Print Edition | Subscribe