Singapore will always be close to Kim Jang-Mi’s heart. It was there that the Korean shooter’s career took off in July 2009, when, at the age of 16, she won gold in the women’s 10m air pistol title at the Asian Youth Games (AYG). A little over a year later she returned to Singapore to win the same event at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games.
“The AYG were my first major international competition and I didn’t know what to expect,” she explained at the time. “I took part in a lot of competitions after that, and by the time I went to the YOG I felt a lot more experienced. It’s very important for me to take this step, from the Asian Games to the YOG. These are the first ones and I’ve won gold. I’m very proud for my country.”
Speaking at the YOG in Singapore, Kim’s coach Lee Yongh Jae mapped out the way forward for her: “The next objective is London 2012, where has the potential to win. If she’s to go higher, though, she’ll need to improve her self-control because he gets too nervous sometimes. She needs to focus on each shot in each competition.”
Right on target in London
Buoyed by her successful maiden Olympic experience, Jang-Mi was in determined mood when she stepped out on the shooting range at Royal Artillery Barracks for the 25m air pistol competition at London 2012, having won a World Cup event there just a few short months earlier. Commenting on the experience, she said: “There wasn’t such a large media presence at the YOG. There’s a lot more pressure here, but I’m putting in the same amount of effort to try and come up with a good performance.”
She was as good as her word, setting a new Olympic record in qualifying with a score of 591. Then, in a thrilling battle for gold, she got the better of China’s Ying Chen, scoring 792.4 points to her rival’s 791.4.
“I was more nervous than I thought. I just tried not to put myself under too much pressure, and to make the most of it. I left home saying I was going to win the gold, and I’m so happy to have come back with the brightest medal of all round my neck,” added Kim, for whom the Singapore 2010 YOG were a vital step in her rise to the top of her sport.