Student Zubin breaks 40-year national record
17-year-old Zubin breaks 40-year-old 400m national record
A 40-year-old national athletics record has finally been broken.
Teenager Zubin Muncherji broke the Singapore men's 400m record at the Asian Junior Championships in Taiwan yesterday, clocking 47.29sec.
The 17-year-old's time was not enough to win his semi-final race - he finished second, behind a runner from Qatar, who clocked 47.02.
It was enough, however, to rewrite Godfrey Jalleh's time of 47.4 set at the National Stadium in 1974, a time equalled by Haron Mundir in 1989.
The oldest national record remains the 10,000m time of 31 min 19sec, set by Pehind (PC) Suppiah in 1973.
Zubin, whose personal best before yesterday was 48.69 recorded at the National Schools championships in March, will look to blaze a trail in the final today, after the Anglo-Chinese Junior College student finished second fastest among the eight finalists.
Zubin's coach, Kamarul Zaman Tahir, was delighted with the runner's effort under the hot afternoon sun at the Taiwan Stadium.
"I saw Zubin was running well and I thought he could make 47.5. I was a little shocked when he made 47.29," said the former Malaysian long jumper, who has been coaching Zubin for five years.
"I'm really happy for him. He's been training really hard and he planned his race well.
"A lot of his achievement is also down to the support he's been getting from the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) and his family."
The 1.88m-tall Zubin, whose mother and sister are in Taiwan with him, was born in India and moved to Singapore with his family when he was a few months old.
Sport is in his genes, as his aunt, Natasha Joshi, is a former Indian tennis player who once competed in Junior Wimbledon.
His maternal grandfather, Ashok Joshi, once captained the Gujarat state cricket team.
After his stunning performance yesterday, Kamarul is expecting big things from Zubin come the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here next June.
The SEA Games record stands at 46.05, recorded by Aktawat Sakoolchan of Thailand in 1995.
At last year's Games in Myanmar, the Philippines' Archand Bagsit clocked 47.22 to win gold.
"I think a year from now, Zubin has to go for gold," Zaman said.
"With his new personal best, he's already one of the favourites. I think he can go below 47 and if he does that, there's a strong chance he'll win."
SAA president Tang Weng Fei, who is in Taiwan with the 12-strong Singapore contingent, regards Zubin as one of the country's brightest track prospects.
"I've always been very confident of Zubin. He's very talented and, most importantly, he works extremely hard," Tang told The New Paper.
"I knew he would eventually break the 400m record. I spoke to him and he said he was confident he could do it at next year's SEA Games.
"I'm pleasantly surprised he's done it now. He's got loads of potential and it's fair to expect him to do well at the SEA Games."
Sprinter Shanti Pereira, 18, was the other local athlete to advance to a final today. She clocked 11.99sec in the women's 100m semi-finals, posting the third-fastest time in the event.