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C'wealth Games: Gai challenges young hotshots 'to replace me'

The Straits Times | Sanjay Nair | Saturday, Aug 2, 2014

Embattled shooter Gai Bin has issued an open challenge to Singapore's young guns to speed up his retirement.

The former Sportsman of the Year returns home today empty-handed from the Commonwealth Games, extending his winless streak to four years after two similarly poor SEA Games outings.

The 46-year-old was Singapore's top performer at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, bagging seven medals including three gold in New Delhi.

Despite missing the mark in Glasgow, he refused to wave the white flag, blaming a cracked air pistol grip on the eve of the competition, as well as his over-eagerness to shoot a high score.

"This (the cracked grip) affected the overall control of the air pistol and my focus, which resulted in the low scores," said the Hefei native.

"I would be more than happy to retire and give way to the younger shooters when they achieve higher scores than me."

At the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre this week, Gai failed to make it through the 10m air pistol preliminaries, before finishing fourth in the 50m pistol - the event in which he claimed a silver four years ago.

Compatriot Poh Lip Meng, 45, placed sixth in the same event, while 35-year-old Lim Swee Hon also failed to qualify for the 10m air pistol final.

Because of a lack of funding to purchase new pistols for younger talent, Singapore had to rely on veterans in this category, whereas debutants Sean Tay and Keith Chan - both just 16 - took part in the 10m air rifle.

This is the first time since the 2002 Manchester edition that the Republic has failed to win a single men's shooting medal.

Singapore Shooting Association president Michael Vaz said he is trying to secure sponsors to give up-and-comers a fair shot at challenging Gai and Co.

Pointing to the likes of pistol hopefuls Hoong Shi Xiang, 22, and Sebastian Soon 27, he said: "There's definitely young talent, but it's also about getting them the right weapons.

"Right now they're already shooting very good scores on old weapons.

"With the new weapons, I'm confident we will see better results."

With the Asian Games and the SEA Games approaching, Gai remains confident of returning to his sharpshooting form of 2010.

He said: "Shooting is not a sport whereby you only need the right technique. Other than being able to perform at our standards under intense competition pressure, luck and range conditions play a big role in each competition as well.

"With so much competition experience, I believe I will be able to recapture my old form.


This article was first published on July 31, 2014.
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