Ritchie wins silver on major Games debut

Ritchie Chan was leading the R1 10m Air Rifle Standing Men SH1 competition at Yishun Safra but had two poor shots right at the end.
Ritchie Chan was leading the R1 10m Air Rifle Standing Men SH1 competition at Yishun Safra but had two poor shots right at the end.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

One is a Paralympian, the other a mere 16-year-old from North View Secondary School.

Yet for 18 shots in the R1 10m Air Rifle Standing Men SH1 final at Yishun Safra yesterday, the young upstart was out-gunning the experienced marksman.

As the lead see-sawed between Thailand's Phirapong Buengbok and Singaporean Ritchie Chan, it seemed as if the Singapore teenager had found a successful routine of waiting until everyone had fired before shooting.

Two shots remained between Ritchie and a possible gold. Sadly, nerves got the better of him.

Phirapong's final two shots of 10.2 and 10.0 were enough to see him take gold while Ritchie faltered, shooting 8.2 and 8.3. The Singaporean finished with a score of 194.6 points, while Phiraphong totalled 197.1.

The Thai had led the qualification of the new event with 603.6 points over six rounds earlier in the day.

Ritchie may not have won gold but he still becomes Singapore's youngest-ever shooting medallist at the Asean Para Games.

The shy and unassuming Secondary 4 student rated his showing as scoring a mere 'B', noting that the pressure was on during his final two shots.

He said: "I did my best but I could have done better.

"My mind was blank and I just wanted to be consistent. There were a lot of emotions that I felt, trying to make a good shot."

Ritchie, who suffers from spinal bifida, has been shooting since he was in Secondary 1, after being introduced to Singapore Disability Sports Council's (SDSC) Learn-To-Play Programme.

A former equestrian rider, he said that his favourite part of shooting is the feeling of firing a gun.

After making SDSC's developmental team, he was selected into the national squad in June, and has trained only for three months in the standing competition.

Despite having to juggle both school and training commitments up to four times a week, Ritchie said he has been able to cope.

He completed his N levels this year, and hopes to be able to become a shooting coach in the future.

Phirapong, who finished 16th in the same event at the 2012 London Paralympics, was also impressed by the youngster's performance, describing his performance as "of the top quality".

He added: "It's good that other countries also do well, so that more of us can compete in European competitions together."

Thailand's second gold of the day came from Bordin Sornsirwichai, who won the P1 10m Air Pistol Men SH1 event with a total of 192.0 points.

Bordin, who finished fourth at the 2012 Paralympics, led the event from start to finish.

Singapore's Logaraj Raju finished second with a score of 187.5, while Indonesia's Zulkifli totalled 158.6 to finish third despite hitting the best shot of the day with a bull's eye.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Ritchie wins silver on major Games debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe