Teenager Zubin dreams of winning 400m SEA Games athletics gold
Zubin Muncherji made it just in time for Singapore Athletics' (SA) Annual Gathering at the Black Box Auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday, after arriving back home from the United States in the morning.
The 18-year-old, who trained in Fort Wayne, Indiana, under coach Terry Milton for about a month, is aiming to achieve something special in the men's 400m at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here next month.
The 1.88m tall runner made headlines last year, when he clocked 47.29sec to break Godfrey Jalleh's 40-year-old men's 400m national record of 47.4.
Speaking to The New Paper last night, Zubin said: "It would be nice to win on home soil. I think I have a shot to win it and it's definitely a dream of mine."
Should the teenager's dream come true, he will end a 44-year individual men's gold-medal drought. The last individual men's track gold was won in 1971 by P C Suppiah in the 10,000m.
Track and field will have 46 gold medals on offer at this year's Games - the most among the 36 events - and questions have been raised over whether the 74-strong Singapore squad can win more than one event.
Shot put star Zhang Gui Rong is a favourite as she goes for her fifth consecutive gold but, besides the 37-year-old, no one else in the Singapore squad is expected to deliver a win at the National Stadium.
"For one event, we are confident (of gold). The others, we want to say yes, but we feel the pressure. We are hoping that our sprinters can pull off an upset," said C Kunalan, SA vice president of training and selection.
"Getting their PBs (personal bests) should be the main objective for all the athletes.
"If all our sprinters get their PBs, that would be fantastic, even if they don't win any golds."
Another former local track and field star, Glory Barnabas, also agreed that progress will be important. She believes the women's 4x400m team will be able to beat the 41-year-old national relay record (3:43.85 at 1974 Asian Games in Teheran).
She said: "The record has stood for far too long, and I don't see why they can't break it. They have trained and prepared very well. I'm going to be there to watch them break it."
The Games can only motivate athletes like Muncherji, Dipna Lim Prasad and Shanti Pereira.
Shanthi, a medal candidate in the women's sprints, said: "The pressure is a good thing, because everyone wants to showcase our athletes. It's something to be excited about, not feel pressurised about.
"I feel like I've been given a platform to shine, and that's exciting."
Fellow sprinter, Dipna Lim, agreed, saying: "Just because it's on home ground, you feel like you owe it to your fellow Singaporeans to do well."