Bryon Lim's confidence took a hit the day before the Schools National B Division boys' 10m air pistol final at Yishun Safra on Friday (April 20).
The Secondary 4 student from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary had underperformed at his final training session on Thursday due to nerves.
"The scores I shot during training were so bad because I was so nervous," said the 16-year-old, whose performance yesterday was his final chance at glory as an Ahmad Ibrahim student.
"I (then) felt even more pressure to do well in the final."
He eventually composed himself to claim the gold with 236.9 points, finishing ahead of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)'s Niu Houji (229.6 points) and Raffles Instutition's Justin Chia (218.7).
Taking his eye off the prize had helped him to cope with the pressure of winning.
"I stopped putting my focus on winning but on my technique instead and I think that really helped me to shoot better," said Bryon, who also won the C Division title in 2016 and hopes to represent Singapore one day.
"I accepted that everyone has nerves and my competitors were probably nervous too."
Focusing on his shot routine also helped Marat Lleyton Veloso, the only competitor from Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road).
The 15-year-old was not intimidated by the crowd as he calmly shot his way to the B boys' 10m air rifle title.
"I just focus on myself. I focus on my shot process, my routine," said Marat, who trains with an external coach four times a week as shooting is not an official co-curricular activity at ACS (Barker).
He also had to live up to the reputation of being the younger brother of national shooter Martina Lindsay Veloso, who was one of Singapore's outstanding athletes at the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games, claiming two of the country's five golds.
Said Marat: "After my sister's success, my friends kind of expected me to do well too, so there was some pressure.
"But it wasn't something I couldn't handle, it's not anything big. I just did everything I had to do, like what I did in training."
The Secondary 3 student won the title with 248.2 points and aims to follow in Martina's footsteps.
"My sister is my idol, I get very motivated by her achievements. I want to be like her, to participate in a major Games and to be on the podium," said Marat, who was called up to the national team last year.
Hwa Chong Institution's Marcus Kung was second (242.7) and Kuo Chuan Presbyterian's Ethan Han in third (232.3).
In the B girls' 10m air pistol final, the Singapore Sports School's Shirlene Hew struck gold with 230.9 points while her team-mate Cecilia Ng claimed the 10m air rifle title with 248.3 points.