Lim-Prasad inches closer to 43-year-old mark
Sprinter takes 0.35sec off her personal best in Thailand Open yesterday to move within 0.02s of Chee's record
National runner Dipna Lim-Prasad took a massive stride towards a 43-year-old national record, when she clocked a personal best in the 400m event at the Thailand Open Track and Field Championships yesterday in Bangkok.
The 26-year-old clocked 55.10sec to win the women's 400m final, lopping an incredible 0.35s off her previous best of 55.45s, which was recorded just three months ago in Brisbane, Australia.
Her new personal best is just 0.02s off Chee Swee Lee's national record of 55.08s, which was set at the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran, Iran.
Lim-Prasad's performance in Bangkok was all the more impressive considering she broke the 56-second barrier only 12 months ago, clocking 55.59s in Lisbon, Portugal.
When asked what the secret behind her marked improvement was, she told The New Paper: "I don't know, you have to ask my coach (Luis Cunha).
"We've been working on a few things - including technique and fitness - but he's the mastermind behind it all.
"I think every athlete knows what their weak points are and you can always be better.
"So, I take that mindset and try to get better."
On whether she could eventually surpass Chee's national record, Lim-Prasad added: "It's definitely something I'm looking towards but I'm trying not to fixate on it.
"I'm focused on the process, the rest will come in its own time."
It's definitely something I'm looking towards but I'm trying not to fixate on it.Dipna Lim-Prasad on whether she could surpass Chee Swee Lee's national record
Even though her time is short of the 2015 SEA Games bronze-medal timing of 54.26s in the 400m race, Lim-Prasad was included in the Singapore National Olympic Council's provisional list of athletes selected for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
She previously won two medals at the SEA Games (bronze in 2013, silver in 2015), both in the 400m hurdles event.
Lim-Prasad pointed to former national sprints coach Cunha - who continues to coach several national athletes - as a big factor in her breakthrough.
She said: "Even though he has a full-time job with ActiveSG that eats into weekends and beyond working hours, he has been training us in his free time and tries his best to be present at training sessions, or check on us when he can't.
"I also have to thank my husband Poh Seng Song and my family - they've been so understanding and supportive with my pursuit of my athletic career."
Among the other Singaporeans in action yesterday, reigning SEA Games 200m champion Veronica Shanti Pereira won the silver medal in the event, in a time of 23.74s.
The 21-year-old finished behind Vietnam's Le Chinh Tu, who clocked a new personal best of 23.52s.
The men's and women's 4x100m relay teams also qualified for their respective finals. The men clocked 40.52s to qualify as the fifth-quickest quartet, with hosts Thailand the favourites after topping qualifying with a time of 39.83s.
The women, meanwhile, clocked 46.06s to qualify as the third-fastest team, with the Thais again leading the way with a 45.17s effort.