National sprinter Muncherji breaks own 400m record
National sprinter rewrites his own record, says he can go faster
He joined the University of Indiana, which has a reputable track and field programme, last June in the hopes of realising his potential as a 400m runner and the move has paid off for Zubin Muncherji after he rewrote his national record on Saturday at the Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, Indiana.
He ran 47.02sec and was 10th overall in the 400m heats, shaving 0.27 off his previous best of 47.29 set at the 2014 Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Taiwan.
It was also within two per cent of 46.19 - South Korean Park Bong Go's sixth-placed time at the 2014 Asian Games - and means Muncherji has met Singapore Athletics' (SA) nomination mark for this year's Asiad in Indonesia. This is subject to the Singapore National Olympic Council's approval.
The 21-year-old freshman, on a partial athletic scholarship, said his time at IU, which competes in the top division of the United States' National Collegiate Athletic Association, has been very beneficial.
He told The Straits Times: "My finishing has got a lot stronger over the last couple of months. I knew I was going to run fast but it was just a matter of when.
"It feels good to be back after facing so many injury setbacks over the last couple of years.
"After I came here, I did a lot of conditioning and built up quite a bit of mileage on my legs.
"The system here is extremely different where we compete almost every single weekend so our bodies are constantly put under a lot of stress and we get forced to adapt to it. I still don't think I have fully adapted to the training load yet."
It is why he believes a sub-47 run is possible this year and is targeting a SEA Games gold.
The gap remains big though. Filipino Trenten Beram won in 46.39 at last year's Kuala Lumpur Games.
Muncherji said: "I want be able to go toe to toe with the top runners in Asia some day. A little self-belief goes a long way and you will achieve your goals if you stay the path, do all the little things right."
He ran on the Mother's Day weekend and fittingly paid tribute to his mother Archana. He said: "This national record feels more of a gift for me than it is for her, so I may buy her flowers when I'm back in Singapore some time next month."
SA general manager Yip Ren Kai lauded Muncherji's consistency and improvement and noted "we should expect more from him".
"Looking at his times, training in the States has done him good as he is improving at a good pace... we hope he can further develop into a force to be reckoned with."
The qualifying period for the Asian Games ends on June 17 with Dipna Lim-Prasad (women's 400m hurdles) and Rachel Yang (pole vault) having already met the mark. Besides Muncherji, Shanti Pereira (100m and 200m), the women's 4x100m relay team and Lim-Prasad (400m) have met SA's nomination standard.