SEA Games: Singapore shooting to review team's performance in Hanoi, says SSA chief Vaz

(From left) Teh Xiu Hong, Amanda Mak, Teo Shun Xie clinched gold in the women's 10m air pistol team finals at the 31st SEA Games on May 20, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

HANOI - The Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) will undertake an internal review of its team's performances in Hanoi and look for ways to improve on its latest showing at the SEA Games.

The team delivered two gold medals in Hanoi - in the women's 10m air pistol team (Teh Xiu Hong, Teo Shun Xie, Amanda Mak) and women's 25m pistol (Teh) events. There were also three silver and three bronze medals.

But the nation's high-profile women air rifle shooters did not enjoy a good outing in Vietnam. In the individual 50m rifle three-positions events, two-time SEA Games gold medallist Martina Veloso was able to claim only a bronze while veteran Jasmine Ser and Lim Yee Xien did not make the finals.

In the 10m air rifle, the Republic was shut out of the podium positions in the individual category for the first time since the 2003 Games, which were also in Vietnam. The team comprised Adele Tan, 22, who was ranked 21st out of 50 competitors at last year's Tokyo Olympics; her sister Fernel, 19, and teammate Natanya Tan, 17 - both of whom were making their Games debut.

But SSA president Michael Vaz insisted that he was proud of the team's showing amidst "challenging circumstances".

He said: "The team has done well given the obstacles that have been in the way. Of course, we will look at how we can do better and identify areas for improvement but overall, I do feel that we have done well enough to be proud of the performances."

Vaz said one of the biggest hurdles has been the lack of facilities. He shared that he has been lobbying Sport Singapore for assistance in the building of an air rifle range and a finals range - to simulate a competitive final environment.

In Hanoi, the shooters were involved in 15 finals but returned with only five medals.

Vaz said: "I have been fighting to build a finals range for a long time. It's one thing to perform during qualifiers and another to do so in a final. It's like training for a 100m race by running around your garden or singing in your room in preparation for a concert at the national theatre. It is not the same."

The National Shooting Centre (NSC) at Old Choa Chu Kang Road is the only public facility that currently allows for shotgun and 25m pistol shooting. All air rifle and other pistol shooters have to train at the Safra Yishun shooting range - where the SSA rents 20 lanes for the national team.

This has meant that shooters competing in multiple events and coaches have had to shuttle between venues during daily training sessions.

Lim Swee Hon alluded to this after his runner-up finish in Sunday's (May 22) 25m standard pistol final.

Lim Swee Hon winning silver at the 25m standard pistol event on May 22, 2022. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

He said: "I have had limited time to train in the lead-up to the Games. I would say training has been disrupted. I wanted to win a gold medal so I am disappointed but glad that I have got something to bring back."

At the 2019 Games in the Philippines, Singapore brought home one silver and four bronzes but failed to win a shooting gold for the first time since 1991. However, there were fewer events then - 14 - while there are 22 in Hanoi.

A positive note has been the emergence of young guns like Fernel, Lionel Wong, 17, and Gai Tianrui, 18.

Wong was second in the men's 10m air rifle event while Fernel and Tianrui delivered a silver in the 10m air rifle mixed team event.

There were also breakthroughs in the trap events. Siti Mastura Rahim won a bronze in the individual women's trap - a first medal for Singapore - since 2003.

Ser, who is also the national youth team coach (rifle) said: "Overall we've done reasonably well...we also had a few more team events (this time) so that contributed to the medal tally.

However, she sounded a warning. She said: "Competition in this region is only getting tougher. We have always been pretty strong in only a few events and now there are other countries who are up there as well because they are engaging quality and experienced foreign coaches. And they also seem to have been receiving better funding to do so.

"We can't be complacent with our pet events that we were strong in. We have to keep blooding new talents and that actually requires more funding."

But she is hopeful that the breakthrough performances of the young shooters at these Games will ensure the next few years will yield better results.

Said Ser: "For the young ones, they have not had much experience in competitions and they have done well here. Hopefully we will have more young talents like them coming through. We have done well but we can definitely do better."

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