Commonwealth Games: Martina Veloso hits golden bull's eye once more

Martina Veloso in between shots during the 50m rifle prone event at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She went out to have fun as it was probably her last attempt in this event as it is not offered in the Olympics.
Martina Veloso in between shots during the 50m rifle prone event at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She went out to have fun as it was probably her last attempt in this event as it is not offered in the Olympics.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Teen enjoys herself as she cracks mark in 50m rifle prone and has a shot at a treble

How the competitors at the Belmont Shooting Centre must envy Martina Veloso. The Singaporean, who was cajoled by the waiting photographers and cameramen to hold her rifle above her head in a triumphant pose while the remaining shooters had yet to complete the remainder of their 60 shots in yesterday's 50m rifle prone event.

Who told the media after claiming the gold medal - her second at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games - that it was the first time that she was competing in this event on such a big stage.

Who was the youngest shooter among the 20 finalists at 18.

So dominant was Veloso that she spent the last few minutes of the competition sipping from her pink water bottle and surveying the changing names and scores on the leaderboard.

But hers - Bib number 1315. VELOSO M - never moved from its position as the last few minutes of the allocated 50 ticked by.

She secured the title with a Games record of 621.0, ahead of India's Tejaswini Sawant (618.9) and Scot Seonaid McIntosh (618.1). New Zealand's Sally Johnston, who finished 11th, had set the previous record of 620.7 in Glasgow in 2014.

This event is not even Veloso's forte, which is the 10m air rifle that she won on Monday. She had started training and shooting at the 50m distance less than two years ago to prepare for the 50m rifle three-positions (kneeling, prone, and standing) category, which is an Olympic event.

She said: "It's unbelievable and I did not expect this at all. This is my first prone competition in a major (meet).

"And this is also my last because this is not an Olympic event so I told myself, 'Enjoy every shot, this won't happen again'.

"I just had fun."

Her team-mate Jasmine Ser, who led after the third of six series (10 shots for each), finished fifth on 615.6.

Both will compete in today's 50m rifle three-positions event, where Ser is the defending Commonwealth champion and also won gold in last year's SEA Games. It will be the pair's final event in Australia.

While Veloso played down talk of a hat-trick of golds, she said: "I'll definitely give my best and practise what I'm supposed to do."

But things did not go exactly to plan for her yesterday. She was fifth after the first series and remained in that position following the second series.

She said: "I was not focusing on the right things. I was thinking about the results and not the process. Something was not right."

Sensing she needed a time-out, she took one and spoke to her coach Hashemi Elham, who was seated before Veloso.

And what did the soft-spoken Iranian say to her?

"She told me to just enjoy myself out there," said Veloso.

The advice was more specific than that, Elham said with a smile.

"Her technique was a little bit off so I gave her a few pointers. But yes, it was also important that she was in control of her emotions."

Whatever was exchanged between them, it had its desired effect. Veloso jumped to second after her third series and seized the lead 10 shots later.

Her score of 104.8 in the final series, when mental fatigue and pressure are usually at their highest, was the best in the field. She was metaphorically on fire.

She said: " I really want to give my best and not make any mistakes I will regret."

If her first Games in Glasgow, where she finished fifth in the 10m air rifle and narrowly missed out on a medal, brought heartache, Veloso has certainly made up for it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2018, with the headline 'Veloso hits golden bull's eye once more'. Print Edition | Subscribe