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Of Guns And Roses

Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games

By Basil Dill Ng
DSLM Year 4 

Shirlene Hew Yun Ting at the 10th Asian Airgun Championships.jpg
Growing up watching the good, the bad and the ugly of Hollywood TV, it’s not surprising that Shirlene Hew Yun Ting has a fascination for guns. Therefore, when there was a general invitation to Primary 4 pupils to try a hand at shooting, she went for it.

Shirlene was studying at Huamin Primary School located in Yishun Street 11 and a 10-minute walk to SAFRA Yishun, where the Ministry of Education was holding a trial session to select youngsters with the aptitude for its Junior Sports Academy Shooting programme. Until she held the pistol for the first time, Shirlene was smelling sweet roses as a member of the Science and Green Club. Surely she has made the right switch, for 5 years on, she has won a shooting spot for Singapore in the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

“I really didn’t think I would come this far when I made my first shot and missed the target, and yet, now that I’m here, I want to go even further – beyond the Youth Olympics to maybe, the Olympics,” said the Secondary 4 student-athlete.

Shirlene made her first praiseworthy achievement in Secondary 1. It was her first tournament, the Singapore Cup, where she finished 2nd. “I was thrilled to medal at my first competition and when my seniors heaped praises on me, I was assured that I had done something special.”

Entering 2017, Shirlene’s goal was to win a quota spot for the YOG. “I had to be really focused in every training session and especially at the  10th Asian Airgun Championships, which was a YOG qualifier. I grew more confident when I shot a personal best and made the cut for the final. To say that I wasn’t nervous would be a lie, but I had my coaches with me, keeping me calm so that I could concentrate the next shot, and the next shot.”

Shirlene finished 5th in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol event and put Singapore on the Asia board, along with China, India and Thailand; two shooters from China have ranked No. 1 and No. 3, but only one shooter will be allowed to compete.

Among the first to congratulate Shirlene were her parents. “After I left the shooting range, I wanted to text my parents to tell them about my performance but they already knew as I received their congratulatory messages. They knew about my goal to get a quota spot, so they were very proud of me.”

Sports School has customised her academic time table since school reopened on 2 January 2018, and included regular sport science and mental strength training sessions.

“Training hours are longer now, but I also have one-to-one coaching which means mistakes are corrected immediately and I can practise until I get it right. This is important as the number of required shots has increased from 40 to 60 and I need to be mentally stronger to last the competition.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m grateful to the MOE JSA Shooting programe for introducing me to the sport and Singapore Sports School Shooting Academy for showing me what I am capable of doing. Having someone as inspiring as Mr Nigel Lim as my coach really motivates me. He has medalled at many international competitions and even while coaching, he continues to train for competitions.”