Aiming at the Olympics

Aiming at the Olympics

Hong Kong's top-ranked junior air pistol shooter wants to be competing at the Games in future

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Rachel Shing, Hong Kong's top junior women's air pistol competitor, dreams of Olympic glory.
Rachel Shing, Hong Kong's top junior women's air pistol competitor, dreams of Olympic glory.
Photo: Warton Li/SCMP
Hong Kong's top-ranked junior markswoman Rachel Shing Ho-ching has her sights set - on the television showing pictures of this summer's Olympics. Rachel, who is unbeaten in local tournaments, has been watching the shooting events, and dreaming of taking part.

"I want to be like my senior teammate, Ip Pui-yi, who is competing in the women's 10mair pistol event at the London Games," says Rachel, 18, a Form Six student at Tak Nga Secondary School in Kowloon Tong. "My dream is to take part in the Olympics, and the Universiade [the multi-sport event for university students]."

She first started to shoot with an air pistol when she was 15. "My elder brother was shooting first and I really wanted to join, too," Rachel says. "But I didn't know there were actually classes for children younger than 15, so I waited until I was 15 - the minimum legal age to fire an air pistol in Hong Kong."

Since taking part in her first tournament, the Festival of Sports Shooting Competition in 2010, she has won every local event in which she has participated. She now tops Hong Kong's junior (under-21) women's rankings.

However, she has had to master more than hitting a target to achieve her success, including changing her buoyant and talkative nature.

"At the shooting training venue, everyone focuses on their target and no one speaks a single word," she says. "I am a naturally talkative girl and like chatting. I also have a short attention span: my teachers at school have often reminded me not to get distracted during lessons. So my character goes against the basic requirement of being a shooter.

"Yet focusing on the sport has helped me to be a more serious person - someone who can always concentrate when shooting. This change in my attitude also helped me to do better in my studies."

Although shooting is a popular Olympic event, Rachel says few Hongkongers know much about the finer points of the sport. "My friends or classmates do not have a clear image of shooting," she says. "But when I tell them it's the sport practised by Wang Yifu [a two-time 10m air pistol Olympic gold medallist], they all understand. Wang is iconic. As a child, I watched him in the 1996 Athens Olympics, when he won the silver medal."

Rachel joined Hong Kong's junior shooting team in 2010, after one year of training. She practises at the air gun shooting centre in Kwai Shing, in Kwai Chung, for two hours every Tuesday and Saturday. "I want to be as good as other top international shooters, so I also train with senior teammates in Guangzhou during long holidays," she says.

Rachel has represented Hong Kong in international tournaments, including scoring 362 points to finish 22nd out of 29 competitors in the junior 10m air pistol event at January's 12th Asian Shooting Championship in Doha, Qatar.

She rejects the idea shooting is easy because competitors do not run around or do strenuous activities. "The pistol weighs more than 1kg, so it is quite a challenge to hold it steady," she says. "There is also always a lot of tension and pressure in events, especially if I score only seven or eight points out of 10 on my first shot, which is a bad start.

"Shooting is a very exciting sport: just a single, tiny problem in a match can cost a medal."

Her target over the next few years is to break the Hong Kong junior record of 383 points, and adult record of 384 points. She says: "I am determined to break them before I turn 21 and stop being a junior."

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