By REDintern Khairulnizam
ITE College East (Simei), Saturday, January 26, 2013 – Zaki Sapari of Republic Polytechnic pulled away in the last 200 metres to win the men’s 400m gold at the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Track and Field Championships.
Zaki, 20, clocked a personal best of 49.51 seconds to finish first, while Goh Eng Wei of the National University of Singapore (NUS) was second in 50.99. Loh Guo Pei of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was third in 51.47.
Eng Wei looked the likely winner with 250m to go as he had built a lead over his competitors. As the athletes rounded the last bend, Zaki powered home a finishing sprint to overtake Eng Wei and claim his victory.
When quizzed on his performance, Zaki revealed that the weather as well as the other competitors played a key role in the day’s performance.
Zaki said: “There was a strong tailwind at the first 100m, and the heat was quite strong during my race.”
“The race was very competitive as well, which pushed me harder to grab a win, especially (against) Eng Wei (of NUS), who tactically set up his race by leading.”
“Being in the top 4 in the country makes me feel proud and accomplished. My main targets for the upcoming races is to be the fastest in Singapore for not only the 400m event but also the 400m hurdles,” added Zaki.
Zaki is the national junior record holder in the latter event, clocking a time of 53.51 seconds at his maiden South-east Asian Games outing in November 2011.
Eng Wei was disappointed with his second-place finish.
“Personally I feel disappointed as I wanted to win. Actually I have just recovered from dengue fever only a month back and I think that might have affected my performance today. However, I must admit Zaki was the better runner both tactically and physically,” said Eng Wei, who was trying to set the pace for the race.
Eng Wei also commented on the heat and tailwind that he had to contend with.
However, he added: “These are all conditions we have to manage and get used to.”
Eng Wei will be focusing on the 200m event next and will be looking to break his personal best time of 21.78 seconds he set last year.
For Guo Pei, the third-place finisher, it was an exciting race.
“It was an exciting and fun race as the field of competitors were very strong with the absence of top national athletes. It was also different from previous races with the presence of factors such as strong headwinds which affected the timing,” said Guo Pei.
Guo Pei added that the last 200m of the race was particularly memorable, because it was the point where he went “all out to finish the race well”.
“I have no targets yet as of now as I will take every race as it comes,” added Guo Pei, whose National Inter-School Track and Field C Division 400m hurdles record of 58.73 seconds has stood since 2005.
1. Muhammad Zaki Bin Sapari (#20, Republic Polytechnic) — 49.51
2. Goh Eng Wei (#22, National University of Singapore) — 50.99
3. Loh Guo Pei (#21, Nanyang Technological University) — 51.47
4. Luqman Bin Zamrot (#18, Ngee Ann Polytechnic) — 52.53
5. Muhammad Reyhan (#17, Temasek Polytechnic) — 52.60
6. Jonathan Lew (#24, National University of Singapore) — 53.30
7. Zulkarnain Mohd Zain (#20, Singapore Polytechnic) — 55.64