SEA Games 2017

SEA Games: Brave Ser gives her best shot for glory

Shooter Jasmine Ser is overjoyed after coming from behind, following the kneeling and prone positions, to finish with 451.2 points to win the gold.
Shooter Jasmine Ser is overjoyed after coming from behind, following the kneeling and prone positions, to finish with 451.2 points to win the gold.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN WONG

Courage can manifest itself in various forms on the sporting field.

Yesterday, it arrived in the petite 1.55m frame of Jasmine Ser, who speaks softly but slings a rifle over her shoulder and has steel in her bones.

Less than 24 hours after losing the 10m air rifle title on the last shot to team-mate Martina Veloso, Ser staged her own improbable comeback in the 50m rifle three position final to clinch the gold, her first individual SEA Games silverware since she won the same event in 2009.

She finished with a Games final record of 451.2 points, ahead of Thai Ratchadaporn Plengsaengthong (449.3) and Malaysian Nur Suryani Taibi (434.6), the 2011 champion.

Upon firing her final shot to seal victory, the normally impassive Singaporean gave a fist pump and broke down in tears before being surrounded by her support team.

She later said: "I'm so drained and tired. I've been fighting since yesterday morning.

"It's just the feeling that you try everything, keep trying and trying. It's been a long while since I did it, so just now was that moment of satisfaction that one day it would come back."

The 26-year-old had entered the eight-shooter final as the top qualifier but then struggled to find her aim. After 15 shots in the kneeling position, she was fifth overall.

Another 15 shots in the prone position and she remained fifth, the gap between her (301.4) and front-runner Nguyen Thi Xuan (304.8) of Vietnam now 3.4 points.

Ser never stopped believing though. She said: "I just couldn't find the best balance in the kneeling series. When I heard my name in fifth, I just brushed it off and told myself to fight. It wasn't over yet. I knew standing is one of the most challenging positions and scores can change drastically."

She was right.

Her total of 99.2 from 10 shots in the standing position was the best score - Xuan shot 89.9 and fell to fifth - and moved Ser to second on 400.6 points, just 0.9 behind Ratchadaporn as the bottom two finalists were removed. The final had moved to the one-shot elimination format in which the shooter with the lowest cumulative total was knocked out.

With the pressure at its greatest, Ser was impeccable. On her next shot, she hit 10.9 (the highest possible score) and overtook Ratchadaporn (9.4) as the leader, a position she did not relinquish.

Her final five shots were 10.9, 10.0, 9.3, 10.0, 10.4 for a total of 50.6, even higher than the two previous rounds (49.0 and 50.2).

She said: "Sometimes for us, the right moment when you click and just nice the rifle is there and you get a 10.9. But you need courage to pull it at the right moment.

"No matter what happened at the start, I had the self-belief that I needed to pull me through in the end. I pulled my last few shots a little more courageously."

Her coach Kirill Ivanov was pleased to see Ser rebound from Friday's disappointment. He said: "Maybe she didn't shoot her best today but she gave full effort from the first shot to the last shot. That will be a psychological boost for her."

In the men's individual trap, Zain Amat earned a bronze, taking Singapore's total at the National Shooting Centre to two golds, four silvers and three bronzes.

Veloso, who finished sixth in the 50m three positions, was thrilled for Ser. She said: "It was such an intense final. Jasmine never gave up. She proved again that she's the queen of this event in South-east Asia."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Brave Ser gives her best shot for glory'. Print Edition | Subscribe