Martina wins gold with her last shot
Teenager Martina pips teammate Ser to win 10m air rifle gold with her final pull of the trigger
Saving her best for last.
Singapore shooter Martina Lindsay Veloso did exactly that when she pipped teammate Jasmine Ser to the gold medal with her last shot in a nail-biting finale to the SEA Games women's 10m air rifle event yesterday.
The 17-year-old's victory is all the more impressive, considering that she qualified for the eight-shooter final in third place with a score of 412.1.
Ser, on the other hand, set a new Games record for the event's qualification stage with a 417.7 to enter the final as the top seed.
And it was the 26-year-old who was in the driver's seat all the way.
The Republic were then guaranteed a 1-2 finish when Thailand's Nawinda Kasemkiatthai was eliminated in the penultimate round of the final.
Leading Martina 227.1 to 226.2 going into the last two shots, Ser went on to post 10.5 and 9.7 for a final-round score of 20.2.
However, Martina showed nerves of steel, shooting 10.7 and then 10.8 for 21.5 points, to complete her remarkable comeback victory.
In the process, she also set a new Games record of 247.7, compared to Ser's 247.3.
Martina told The New Paper after her win: "After my last shot, I wasn't expecting anything... but, when I put down my gun and saw my name at the top of the scoreboard, I was very happy and shocked.
"I am very pleased with this result, it showed that my hard work over the last few months has paid off."
The referee's delay in starting the final round of shots could have played a part in Martina's victory.
The teenager noticed that the referee had not said "start", which would have triggered the clock to indicate the time the shooters had to take their shots.
She said: "I double-checked and saw that the clock hadn't moved yet, so I put my rifle down. I think the referee noticed it and (started the round)."
Unlike her teammate, Ser was confused by the referee's delay, which could have caused her final shot to go slightly off-centre.
However, she was surprisingly calm about her last-gasp defeat.
"It was a pity, but I accept it and will learn from this... I think this is the first time I have really found peace with my work in competition," said Ser, who clinched her second consecutive silver in this event.
"I loved the way I shot every shot and I was really pleased."
Martina's journey to victory had been anything but smooth.
At the last SEA Games, she finished third in this event but had to give up the bronze medal as the rules did not allow a country to sweep all three medals in an individual event - teammates Tessa Neo and Ser had won the gold and silver respectively.
Earlier this week, Singapore's air rifle team arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the competition, only to find out that the women's individual 10m air rifle event would be held yesterday, instead of two days earlier as scheduled.
During yesterday's qualification, Martina was less than halfway through her shots when she heard unexpected knocking sounds coming from her weapon.
"I was a bit scared at that point, this has never happened to me before, and it happened at the SEA Games," said the Nanyang Polytechnic student.
Her coach took less than 10 minutes to fix the problem, while a sports psychologist helped the teenager keep her cool as the clock wound down - Martina wasn't given extra time for her shots despite her technical issues.
Ser feels that the tight battle for the gold medal was a demonstration of the strength of the team.
She said: "These days, there is a strong pool of (Singapore rifle) shooters who can represent Singapore at any time.
"I think qualifying for the SEA Games (from internal selections) was more difficult than the actual competition."
Martina and Ser will feature next in the women's 50m rifle three-positions qualifications and finals tomorrow.