Published on 30 Jun 2015

Martina Veloso: Getting used to the noise of success

Alessandro Ceschi

Singapore's Martina Veloso won the bronze at yesterday's 10m Air Rifle. The noise that fans make, she says, makes her nervous. She wants to learn how to stay calm. As long as there's noise, though, that means Veloso will be competing someplace important.

Singapore's Martina Lindsay Veloso, 15, has two medals around her neck -- an individual bronze, and a team silver. Both are from the women's 10m Air Rifle of the 2015 ISSF Junior Cup in Suhl, Germany.

In yesterday's final, Veloso secured third place as she overcame Rachel Martin of the USA.

After being tied in third place with Rachel twice, Veloso was in fourth -- one shot close to her elimination.

That's when she pulled a 10.2 out of her hat. Rachel was out, and Veloso was now in third -- making her way to the bronze medal.

It was Veloso's first international medal this season, one that she was waiting for eagerly -- her 2014 was a successful year, raising hopes that added pressure on her 2015.

Last year in Munich, Veloso became the youngest World Cup gold medalist in the ISSF history. She was just 14.

Two months later, she won a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

In March of the same year, Veloso had won a gold medal as a junior at the Asian Shooting Championships in Kuwait City.

But Veloso still hadn't won anything this season. Last May, she had come in 43rd at the ISSF World Cup stage in Fort Benning.

Finally, in Suhl, the season's first medal came.

To win, Veloso had "to go back to ground zero."

"Like, not let the past competitions hinder in the back of my head," Veloso says. "I have to restart again, and I'll become better. If not, I'll get pressure and I won't shoot so well."

To stay motivated, Veloso says, she thinks "that there are more people, and that more people are getting stronger as well."

During the competition in Suhl, fans are making a lot of noise -- clapping, shouting, playing stadium horns. This kind of support, Veloso says, makes shooters "more nervous."

"We have to try to calm ourselves down very fast," says Veloso, who does "breathing exercises of visualization" to do that herself -- that is, "you think about your shot routine and stuff, like what you're gonna do for the next shot."

Learning "to settle down faster," -- to avoid pressure -- seems to be Veloso's main concern, and what she most wants to improve in her shooting.

Back home in Singapore, Veloso and her coach Lim Chea Rong "play different musics" during trainings to get her used to the noise -- "to simulate the actual final itself."

"We've been doing that for the past few months," Veloso says. "I have to train more with that. So that when I shoot I won't get so affected [by the noise]."

"Sometimes it works, but during training and competititon the pressure level is different. So it's not that easy to get the same type of pressure level during training."

To get used to the noise, Veloso says, she needs more experience.

"I have to go to more competitions," she says. "More international competitions -- you see other countries, you see some very good shooters."

And although she learns from other shooters, Veloso still looks to coach Lim whenever she needs advice.

"Everything's from my coach," Veloso says.

Coach Lim also thinks that Veloso should work to keep her cool better -- "to calm myself down quickly," "to settle down."

This is a problem Veloso should hope having for a long time still. As long as she has to deal with the pressure of fans making noise, that will mean she's somewhere important -- trying to calm herself down to win a gold. It's a nice problem to have.