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Right On Target

Coach Feature: Lim Chea Rong

Shooter Martina Lindsay P Veloso possesses several national records and medals across different events, including a gold medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. She was named the 2019 Sportswoman of the Year. Adele Tan Qian Xiu won bronze at the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held in the Philippines before they went on to make a national record at the H&N Cup earlier the year. She is vying for a spot to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games scheduled to take place in 2021.

Besides the drive, determination and hard work of these youths, one strong force behind the success of these shooters is Lim Chea Rong, Head Coach at Singapore Sports School’s Shooting Academy. Chea Rong has trained and nurtured them since they stepped into Sports School at 13 years old.

Chea Rong, who also started shooting at the age of 13, developed a passion for the sport and an interest to develop the potential of aspiring shooters along the way. At the National University of Singapore where Chea Rong did her undergraduate studies, she started the Air Weapon Club where she coached other shooters. She then trained five NPCC shooters in Air Rifle in a school, before she moved on to start her own company that offered competitive shooting training services to schools.

Her experience in working with youths put her in good stead to join the Sports School in 2010 to start the Shooting Academy.

She shared, “I wanted to give back to the sport after spending close to 8 years as a national athlete and having the privilege to have access to good national coaches and shooting facilities. The competitive nature in me tends to seek competition and adrenaline rush when my shooters do well in competitions and win at international meets. I also get a sense of fulfillment when I watch the shooters grow from an amateur to one who is representing Singapore and having a chance to earn a place in the Olympics.”

Chea Rong saw success very quickly after starting the Shooting Academy through Martina Lindsay P Veloso. Martina was from the pioneer batch of student-athletes who enrolled in the Learn-to-Shoot programme which was started for Primary 6 students in 2011. At just 14 years old, she won the 2014 ISSF World Cup, making her the youngest medallist in the history of ISSF. She was only the youngest shooter at the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympics where she won a silver medal. She emerged as the gold medallist in both the 2017 SEA Games and 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Chea Rong has been able to produce successful athletes because the Shooting Academy takes an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach in developing the potential of shooters. Its sports programme is framed using the Long-Term Athlete-Development (LTAD) model, which is the central philosophy of Sports School’s sport programmes to develop student-athletes optimally. Training is categorised into three phases namely, Learn-To-Shoot, Shoot-To-Compete, and Compete-To-Win. The central principle is that student-athletes are assessed based on their developmental age rather than chronological age. By differentiating training, equipment, competitions, and sport science given to each shooter based on their individual potential, the coaches at the Shooting Academy, under the guidance of Chea Rong, have been able to bring out the best in their shooters.

Beyond their technical expertise, Chea Rong and her team nurture champions by looking into other important aspects that make a student-athlete a winner: attitude, team spirit, nutrition, sport science, communication, and individual responsibility. For example, before COVID-19, a day was set aside for student-athletes to build their team spirit, inculcate responsibilities through fun activities, have theory lessons, or learn sport science. This dedicated day was also good for coaches to get to know their student-athletes better on a more personal level. They also arrange for sharing sessions with elite shooters to find out how they train and their journey to the podium, to motivate current student-athletes, and to build their positive mindset and resilience.

The Shooting Academy also believes in having role models in close proximity to student-athletes as it builds their sub-conscious desire for excellence. By having world-class shooters and medallists who have had a similar progression pathway training in their midst, it motivates current student-athletes. As Chea Rong mentioned, “It will make them think ‘If the people training beside be can be champions, I can do it too!’”

Chea Rong’s commitment to building a culture supporting athletic and academic success, and demonstrating strong coaching and mentoring skills, has enabled the Shooting Academy to produce several high-performing athletes. Her clear vision and purpose, strong leadership skills, and coaching style will continue to be a driving force for the Academy to celebrate more successes in the future.