Dipna ends 43-year 400m record, wins silver
Lim-Prasad breaks Chee's 1974 mark en route to winning 400m silver
One of Singapore track and field's oldest national records was finally rewritten last night.
In fact, it was obliterated.
At the Bukit Jalil Stadium, Dipna Lim-Prasad clocked 54.18 seconds in the women's 400m final of the SEA Games, shaving almost an entire second off Chee Swee Lee's previous national best of 55.08sec set at the Asian Games in Tehran in 1974.
The time also gave Lim-Prasad her second silver medal in Kuala Lumpur, following her runner-up finish in the 400m hurdles on Wednesday night.
The 26-year-old finished behind Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Huyen (52.48sec), who also won the 400m hurdles gold.
Thailand's Supanich Poolkerd claimed the bronze in 54.55sec.
Only K Arumugam's men's 50km walk national record set in December 1969 is older than Chee's mark.
When asked to describe her achievement, Lim-Prasad told The New Paper: "Shiok! I've been gunning for the record for the whole of this year.
"I came so close at the Thailand Open (in June) and then was confident I could do it at the Malaysia Open (last month), but had to pull out because of a virus.
"So it's been a long time coming, and I'm glad to finally get it.
"It's surreal... I'm just more shocked I broke it by such a margin."
Lim-Prasad made her SEA Games debut in 2011, but yesterday was the first time she competed in the 400m race at the biennial Games.
She revealed that she was not sure how well she would perform in the final, because her "pacing was inconsistent" during the warm-up.
"In the first 100 to 150m, everybody seemed to be pulling away from me, and I wasn't sure if I was going too slow," she said.
"In the second half of the race, I figured it was time to push, so I just whacked.
"And, towards the end, the Thai girl was pushing me so I just told myself, 'I cannot let her overtake me'."
Lim-Prasad's time last night was all the more remarkable considering she had broken the 56-second barrier only 14 months ago.
She attributed the significant improvements in her time to the efforts of her coach, Luis Cunha, whom she had been working with since December 2014.
She said her next target is to go below 54 seconds, and added she hoped she could achieve it with the Portuguese by her side.
"One theory is that I was running very slow so it's easier to improve (with such times)," she quipped, when asked about her vast improvement.
"But I guess Luis just made me a better athlete. His training is very smart and he is very meticulous with his plans.
"He always emphasises that being a better athlete is not just during training, but for 24 hours a day, and I guess it has made a difference for me.
"His contract (with Sport Singapore) ends at the end of this year and I really hope he gets an extension so I can continue to work with him and improve."
Meanwhile, there was controversy in the women's high jump final.
Singapore's Michelle Sng and Vietnam's Dong Thi Viet Anh were mistakenly awarded a joint gold medal after both had cleared 1.83 metres.
Games officials had begun packing up the high jump equipment when the two athletes were recalled for a jump-off.
Dong then cleared 1.82m but Sng was unable to do so.
In the end, Sng, 30, had to settle for silver, although The New Paper understands that as of press time, Team Singapore officials had appealed the decision and were awaiting the decision of the SEA Games appeals committee.