Girl power on show in Taiwan
Republic's track stars warm up for SEA Games in style by breaking three national records in one day in Taiwan
With 19 days to go before next month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, Singapore's track and field athletes are peaking.
One day after the women's 4x100m relay team of Wendy Enn, Shanti Pereira, Dipna Lim-Prasad and Smriti Menon set a new national mark of 46.44 seconds in the heats, three more national records bit the dust at the Taiwan Open Athletics Championships yesterday.
The 4x100m relay team were once again the headlining act as Eugenia Tan replaced Lim-Prasad and partnered Enn, Shanti and Smriti to a new mark of 46.18, shaving 0.26 off Friday's timing.
Shanti, who had clocked 24.04 to finish second in the women's 200m earlier in the day, said that the new national record had been "unexpected" as the quartet were tired after competing in their individual events.
"We just wanted to do our best," said the 18-year-old. "We didn't expect a new record today."
"We've been wanting to improve our timing and now we know the possibility of running below 46 seconds is within reach.
"So we're going to work more on our passing techniques and train hard so that we can do well at the SEA Games."
Despite carrying injuries, hurdler Lim-Prasad and pole vaulter Rachel Yang smashed their own national records at the Taipei Municipal Stadium.
Lim-Prasad clocked 59.59 in the heats of the 400m hurdles event, bettering her previous national record of 59.86, set in Sydney in March.
Yang, meanwhile cleared 3.85 metres in the pole vault event - 2cm higher than her national record of 3.83m, which was established at the Malaysia Open Athletics Championship in March.
The new marks are pending ratification by Singapore Athletics.
For Yang, who had been struggling with an ankle injury suffered three weeks ago, yesterday's result was a "bonus" as her goal for the Taiwan meet was simply to get used to her new pole.
"I've been using a stiffer pole on a higher grip since the Singapore Open (in March)," said the 33-year-old.
"So the objective for Taiwan wasn't to reach greater heights, but to use the new pole in a competition setting."
Yang is aware that her new national record betters that of 2013 SEA Games bronze medallist Riezel Buenaventura's result of 3.80m, and she said: "The pressure will definitely be on, because everyone now knows my form. But we will work even harder for the SEA Games.
"The next step for me is to keep working on perfecting my technique and not focus too much on the result. In pole vault, you won't perform well if you're thinking only about the result."
Lim-Prasad, who had been battling hamstring and hip injuries over the past month, said that running over the past two days had been "super scary".
After setting her new national mark in the heats, the 23-year-old pulled out of the final as her injuries were acting up.
"I was worried I would aggravate one of my injuries," said the 2013 SEA Games bronze medallist.
"If that had happened, the SEA Games would be off the table. Today's personal best came at such a relief."
UNDER ONE MINUTE
Lim-Prasad's bronze-winning time of 59.96 at the 2013 Myanmar Games had made her the first Singaporean woman to go under one minute in the 400m hurdles, but her record of 59.59 set yesterday still falls short of Vietnamese Thi Lan Quach's silver-medal winning time of 58.93 two years ago.
Despite her injury concerns, Lim-Prasad is confident of delivering at the SEA Games.
"My result today reassured me that despite my preparations not being ideal, I'm still on the right track," she said.
"Fingers crossed, I hope I can be injury free so that I can ramp up my training and do even better at the SEA Games."
"They’re expected to improve and, to improve, they have to keep breaking records. The important thing now is to remain healthy and remember that while we are improving, our rivals are also improving. So we cannot be overly confident. "
- Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Feiq