Muncherji's destined for better times
His former coach Kamarulzaman believes he'll break 47sec barrier at the Asiad
It took Zubin Muncherji nearly four years to lower his own 400m national record he set as an 18-year-old but, according to his long-time coach, his latest mark won't even last four months.
Kamarulzaman Tahir, who has coached the 22-year-old since he was 13 until he moved to study and train in the United States in June last year, believes the sprinter will go below 47 seconds at the Asian Games in Jakarta later this month.
Zubin shot to prominence in June 2014, clocking 47.29sec to break Godfrey Jalleh's then-40-year-old 400m national record of 47.4 .
But the University of Indiana student-athlete hasn't managed to better that time, until May, when he ran a 47.02 at the Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, Indiana.
Kamarulzaman expects that time to fall further in Indonesia, telling The New Paper: "Definitely he will go sub-47 seconds and break his record at the Asian Games.
"Since he went to the US, he has improved a lot. His upper body strength has become better and his speed endurance has improved, especially in the last 100m of the 400m."
But this progress hasn't come easy for Muncherji.
The sprinter's athletics career has hit several speed bumps since his record-breaking exploits as an 18-year-old.
He expected to medal at the 2015 SEA Games on home soil but finished sixth and missed out on a wildcard spot for the Rio Olympics a year later while doing his national service.
While everyone else was praying, I was running around the temple and my dad realised his kid was pretty fast.Zubin Muncherji on how his father spotted his athletic talents when he was seven
Last year, he didn't qualify for the 400m at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur as National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility rules meant he missed Singapore Athletics' qualification deadline.
Muncherji admitted that the thought of packing it in had crossed his mind, particularly after missing out on Rio.
He said: "I'd be lying if I said I didn't think (of giving up).
"NS was quite good for me, in that I had commanders who were understanding enough to let me go for training... but it wasn't near as many hours as I needed to put in to get to the next level.
"Sometimes I was so tired from travelling from my camp in Yew Tee to Kallang Practice Track every single day.
"It was mentally exhausting, those barriers like when am I going to improve or is this going to pay off?
"It was just a cycle of fatigue and frustration, but at the end of the day... I can't imagine my life without running."
Muncherji also admitted that he struggled to cope with the expectations that came with breaking the national record at a young age.
He said: "You get caught up in trying to get better because people expect things from you.
"For example, before I broke the record, no one was talking about the SEA Games, let alone being a potential medallist. Then after I broke the record, and it was like, 'This guy can win'.
"Thinking back, all that did play on my mind. I was inexperienced, I didn't know how to handle the pressure as well."
He believes his move to the US has changed all that. He cited his record-breaking run in May, when he powered through physically when he wasn't feeling the best mentally.
Said Muncherji: "Honestly, on the day I broke my record, I felt like s**t. I was just a bit tired, I didn't feel great...
"A lot of it was anxiety - is this going to pay off? The one thing on my mind was, 'Please God let this be the day I break my national record,' but I wasn't sure it was going to happen because I didn't feel great.
"I knew my body was ready, it was just my mind wasn't as ready. But literally the moment I left the blocks and started running , I sort of knew."