Finals 10m Air Rifle Women

Spotlight on Youth | Martina Veloso, all the way from Singapore

ISSF World Cup Rifle / Pistol / Shotgun · Munich, GER

The 14-year-old who's a student in Singapore and a gold medallist in Munich

“I think I'm the youngest among all these competitors,” says Martina Lindsay Veloso – just after the 10m Air Rifle award ceremony which gave her a gold medal. She's standing a few steps away from the podium she just stepped up to. And she's right, of course: Martina, a Singaporean, is only 14. The oldest participant was Germany's Barbara Engleder (31). The average age of the other finalists was over 26. Indeed, she is the youngest ISSF World Cup medallist ever.


“Making into finals is a really big thing for me,” says Martina. “Because I get to compete against more experienced athletes.” On the other hand, the next Youth Olympic Games are “very exciting, because I get to compete with people who are all of my age group.” Let's just say that she enjoys any competition.


Martina talks like a veteran (“Is this your first interview?” “Oh, no,” she answers smiling), but it wasn't more than two years ago when she first went to the range. “My school [a secondary sports school in Singapore] organized this program for all those 12-year-olds to come and join shooting.” Among over 100 students, “I was handpicked by my coach. There was 3 of us who got chosen for Air Rifle women. I'm really grateful for that. Maybe [that happened] because I had a potential.”


Anyway, it didn't take her a long time to tune in to the sport. “Everyone thinks shooting is very easy,” she says. “Because you just stand there and shoot, shoot, shoot. But the thing they don't know about shooting is that it's very challenging. It challenges your mind. We have to train on our mentality to become better and overcome all these difficult obstacles.”


And as it turns out, it is really hard to control what gets through your mind while you're there. Thoughts are “sometimes positive, sometimes it's things that don't really have to do with shooting. Like, what am I gonna have for lunch [laughs]. I just clear my mind after that. I just think about doing my shot routine and everything. Just block everything else out.”


How does she do that? “I' m not really sure,” she says. “My coach only tells us to fight all the way. Be aggressive, don't just give up. Maybe if a shot is 9, then you're like, 'This is the end of it, I'm not gonna do well.' You can't think like that, you need to fight all the way to your last shot, until you put down your gun.”


Among Martina's competitors in this event, there was also World Champion Andrea Arsovic – who only took 3rd place. The 27-year-old of Serbia now walks by Martina and asks her how old she is. “Amazing”, she finally says when she gets an answer. “Lucky you!”


Arsovic then gives Martina a piece of advice. “Just learn. And listen,” she says. The 14-year-old of Singapore nods and laughs. “Now I'm going back to school,” she says. You can tell she'll have something to talk about with her friends.

UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that Martina Veloso is Filipino; she is not. In fact, she is Singaporean. This mistake was due to a misunderstanding, as when Martina said "I'm a Filipino" she referred to her ethnic/dialect group and not to her nationality. Thanks to Shirley Tan-Oehler of Singapore Sports School for telling us about this.

Alessandro Ceschi


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