Understated Ser says she can win an Olympic medal

Jasmine's understated statement 
of intent

Everybody who qualified for the Olympics will have an equal chance to medal, because qualifying itself is so tough. I am ready to win a medal. — Singapore shooter Jasmine Ser (above)

Jasmine Ser will not tattoo the five rings of the Olympics anywhere on her body.

It is a declaration that will surprise no one.

It has been her dream to compete at the Olympic Games since she picked up shooting as a schoolgirl some 10 years ago but, even as she steps up to fly the Singapore flag in Rio de Janeiro next week, there will be no celebrating to mark out the achievement.

Ser did not celebrate when she made her debut at the 2012 Games in London, and there was no wild party when she qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio on merit.

She is sometimes philosophical in her response to questions, at other times understated - but always straightforward - the kind of girl any boy could bring home to his mother.  

And that is precisely why Singapore should sit up and listen when she says she can win a medal in Rio.

"In 2012, I tried to treat (competing at the London Olympics) like any other Games, but it was different - it was the Olympics. The hype was there, the crowd was there, the pressure was there and I was just not that good in terms of technical skills compared to everyone else who qualified, but now I think I'm up to par," said the 25-year-old, when she met The New Paper recently.

"Everybody who qualified for the Olympics will have an equal chance to medal, because qualifying itself is so tough.

"I am ready to win a medal."

"Up to par" in Ser's understated parlance means she believes she can match the best in the world, and she said that as she would do anything at the shooting range - quietly: no puffed up chest; straightforward: no big words - just boringly honest.

Ser took the long route to Rio, missing out on several opportunities before eventually earning her ticket in New Delhi in January. She won the 50m rifle three positions (3P) event at the Asia Olympic qualifying competition, despite suffering from food poisoning for a week prior.

That would have given her much confidence, and it is clear that the 2016 Ser is much different from the 2012 version.

Her coach Kirill Ivanov has already said that her progress has been one of the fastest in the world, and the Russian has seen more than most.

The 55-year-old is a former world champion and a bronze medallist at the 1988 Olympics in the same event that Ser will compete in, and he was once chief rifle coach of the Russian national team.

She has been in full-time training for the last two years with Rio in mind and something is different about her this time.

She knows it, too.

"I did it (qualify via) the long way, but I think it was a good thing. I was shooting next to some of the same guys who will be at the Olympics, and it's good to keep seeing them because now I'm past all that, 'oh, it's a famous shooter next to me' thing.

"I'm long past that - now they're just competitors," said Ser, breaking into a smile.

CONFIDENCE

That smile was the only hint of just how much confidence Ser will pack in her bags to Rio.

"When I actually qualified, what I felt was total relief - all the effort, both mine and my coach, was not wasted.

"Sometimes we get so engrossed in training for the next competition, to shoot better, that we don't always remember that the whole of Singapore is behind us."

If Ser can pull it off, she will be the first Singapore shooter to win a medal at the Olympic Games.

She does not worry about the outcome - her focus is tuned to the process of getting there.

"I don't go to sleep thinking about the fact that I may be the first Singaporean to do this, but I do go to sleep thinking about the competition, how it'll be, where I'll be standing, how I'll execute my shots in the final - and the podium finish," she said.

"I have to visualise standing on the podium, otherwise I'll waste the whole visualisation process," she added, giggling.

Even so, there will be no tattoo of the Olympic's five rings.

"I'm afraid of pain. Maybe I'll get a five-rings ring," mulled Ser, when asked how she would celebrate.

But return with a medal, and Ser will ink her name into the annals of Singapore's sporting history, a mark that will complement her cookie-cutter image.

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