Photos by Lim Yong Teck and Lee Jian Wei/Red Sports
National Stadium, Saturday and Sunday, 4 and 5 April, 2015 — Three Singapore national records fell on the first of two days of competition at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships.
The Republic’s undisputed sprint queen, 18-year-old Shanti Veronica Pereira, broke one of those and played a part in a second — in the women’s 4x100m relay — to lead Singapore to a sixth-place finish in the medals tally (with three golds, six silvers, and 16 bronzes).
In her pet event, the 2014 Asian Junior bronze medallist clocked 11.80 seconds to finish second and rewrite her national record in the women’s 100m final. Indonesia’s Tri Setyo Utami clocked 11.76sec to win.
Held at the National Stadium, the venue was hosting its first track and field meet, a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, since it newly opened in June 2014.
Shanti’s new 100m national record improved her previous mark by nine hundredths of a second, set when she became the first Singaporean woman to break 12sec for the distance at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine.
It came just over an hour after Ang Chen Xiang had delivered the first of the trio of national records on the first day of the championships, lending credence to claims that the new Mondo Super X track surface made for fast times.
Chen Xiang clocked 14.44sec to better the previous mark set by Abdul Hakeem Abdul Halim at the Taiwan Open in May 2012 by one hundredth of a second.
Chen Xiang won the bronze, behind Malaysia’s Mat Hassan Mohd Ajmal Aiman (14.29sec) and Philippines’s Patrick Ma Unso (14.37sec).
Returning for the penultimate event of the first day, just over two hours after her 100m final, Shanti ran the second leg in the 4x100m relay for the Singapore ‘A’ team.
Together with Wendy Enn, Eugenia Tan, and Smriti Menon, the team clocked 46.64sec to dip below the previous national record of 46.68sec set by the team of Lee Yan Lin, Ann Siao Mei, Amanda Choo, and Wong Ze Teng at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand. The quartet finished second of three teams, behind Indonesia (45.98sec).
The Singapore Open was the last chance for Singapore athletes to qualify for the 2015 SEA Games on home soil, as the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) are expected to confirm the final squad by the end of April after nominations are submitted by Singapore Athletics.
The battle for the top two spots (each country is allowed to enter up to two athletes per event in athletics subject to each country’s own qualifying criteria) in certain events was separated by fine margins.
One of those events, notably, was the men’s 1,500m. The quartet of Zachary Ryan Devaraj (4 minutes 2.69 seconds, Malaysia Open, 29 March 2015), Raviin Muthukumar (4:03.21, Swift Track and Field Championships, 1 March 2015), Fang Jian Yong (4:03.48, Philippines Open, 21 March 2015), and Soh Hua Qun (4:04.16, SAA Track Series 3, 14 March 2015) had all set season’s best times in the last month and went into the Singapore Open weekend with a mere 1.5sec between them.
All four clashed on Saturday in the 1,500m final, the conclusion of which saw a shuffle in rankings.
Raviin emerged as the top-ranked Singaporean 1,500m runner after a finishing kick in the last 300m of the race saw him claw back a 20m gap that Hua Qun and Jian Yong had established on him, clocking a personal best 4:01.70 to finish as the top Singaporean and third overall, behind Indonesia’s Ridwan (3:53.11) and Malaysia’s Hamizan Ahmad Luth (3:57.55).
Jian Yong finished behind Raviin in fourth place (second Singaporean), clocking 4:02.07 to also beat Zachary’s previous season-leading time.
Zachary, however, would find some consolation the next day in the 800m final when he clocked 1:56.25 to finish fourth overall and second Singaporean behind Jian Yong (1:55.64). The 2010 Youth Olympic Games Singapore representative’s time would also rank him as the second-fastest Singaporean in the 800m within the SEA Games qualifying window as athletes await news of the SEA Games squad confirmation.
Full results here.
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