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Adele On Target For Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympic Games Shooting Selection

She had been preparing herself mentally for what was to come on 15 May 2021. It was the final trial to select the shooter that would represent Singapore at the Tokyo Olympic Games in July this year. Adele Tan Qian Xiu was a front runner in Singapore Shooting Association’s series of selection trials and was so close to securing the spot to compete at the quadrennial Games. Yet, when the 2021 SSA May Shoot was over and the result was announced that she’d won that coveted spot, “it took me a while to let things sink it,” she said.

Even after numerous exposures at international meets and competing against some of the world’s best shooters, Adele was still a bundle of nerves going into the final internal selection trial. However, what was different for the 22-year-old this time round was her maturity as she stepped into the range. After 11 years of serious training and competition, she has learnt to cope better with pressure and accept situations and outcomes whether good or bad. Her maturity in mindset also taught her to be realistic and kind towards herself if she fell short of expectations. Not surprisingly, this mental growth helped her handle high-pressure situations better and perform more consistently. During the internal shoot, Adele reminded herself of her bigger goal, which is to be among the top in world ranking.

The selection process took into account shooters’ performances at four meets: The 2020 H&N Cup in Munich in January, and three internal competitions. On the final trial on 15 May, Adele finished 5th in the final but managed to beat alumnae Ho Xiu Yi and Martina Lindsay P Veloso, and national teammate Tessa, who were also in the running for the Olympic selection, based on a combined qualification and final score. Earlier in November 2019, Tessa had won an Olympic berth for Singapore. With the quota allocated to the country instead of the shooter, Singapore Shooting and Singapore National Olympic Council had the final decision on who should represent Singapore at the Games.

The journey has not been an easy one for Adele who is a first-year psychology undergraduate at the National University of Singapore. As a student-athlete, there were times where she had to juggle university studies and long training hours.

“It was very tough, to the point where I had to burn midnight oil during my final exam period.” All her time went to studying and training, with little to no time for meals. “Thankfully, my coach is extremely understanding. He forces me to take breaks to focus on my exams when he sees that I’m overstretched and required the extra study time.

“The key to my progress thus far, I feel, is the extremely strong support system I have that takes care of me holistically – in my studies, wellbeing, personal life and mental health, not just in shooting.”

The COVID-19 pandemic threw plans into disarray as the Olympics was pushed back a year and the selection period was extended to 1.5 years. Coupled with the perpetual uncertainty that ensued, it was inevitable that athletes became disheartened about the Olympics actually happening. But Adele remained optimistic, working closely with National Youth Sports Institute's sport psychologist Dr Harry Lim to overcome her internal and external battles, and keep her mentally ready for the next challenge.

“The lengthy process was indeed tiring for us, but we are fortunate to have the support of an efficient high performance system in Singapore Shooting and Singapore Sports School’s holistic care given to me. That makes tough days easier to get through.”

For now, her sights are trained on being in top form for the Olympics which begin on 23 July. “The focus right now will be replicating my usual training standard in extremely high pressure situations, and the way to achieve this is by continuing to work with my coach and psychologist closely and smartly.

The target that the debutant has is simple: To be able to withstand the high pressure. “I will bend, but I will never break!”

Adele is the fourth athlete who is formerly from the Sports School who has confirmed a place at the Tokyo Olympic Games in July this year. The other three are fencer Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier, sailor Cecilia Low Rui Qi and paddler Clarence Chew Zhe Yu.