Story by Clement Tan/Red Sports, with assistance by Erwin Wong and Lee Jian Wei/Red Sports.
Bukit Jalil National Stadium, August 24, 2017 — Singapore’s Dipna Lim-Prasad broke a 43-year-old national record Thursday, when she finished second to clinch silver in the women’s 400-metre final at the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, while high jumper Michelle Sng won Singapore’s first gold in the women’s event since 1965.
Dipna clocked 54.18 seconds, erasing the previous mark of 55.08s that Chee Swee Lee set at the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran on her way to winning gold. This was also Singapore’s first medal in the women’s 400-meters race at the biennial SEA Games since Chee won gold and Chew Kim Huat the bronze in 1975.
“When I got silver I was just like okay, and Seng Song (her husband) shouted from the stands that I got the record… then it registered later on,” Dipna told The Straits Times after the race. “54.18s is massive so I’m really happy.”
Michelle was awarded the gold medal, along with Vietnam’s Duong Thi Viet Ahn, after Singapore lodged a successful appeal.
The two athletes were made to jump off for gold, about 10 minutes after initially being told they were joint gold medallists when both failed to clear 1.86 metres, according to accounts carried in both TODAY and Straits Times newspapers. Both athletes had then cooled down after being told the competition was over. Both had cleared 1.83 metres on their first attempt previously, but Michelle failed to clear 1.82 metres in the jump-off.
Michelle, 30, was all tears at the medal ceremony Friday. This was her first gold medal and Singapore’s first in women’s high jump since Cheong Wai Hing won in 1965. Noor Azhar Hamid won Singapore’s last high jump gold in the men’s competition in 1975.
The 400m silver was Dipna’s second of these Games. She defended the silver medal in the 400m hurdles she won in Singapore two years ago, clocking a season best 1 minute 00.55 seconds Tuesday after an exhilarating sprint down the home straight that saw her overhaul Thailand’s Wassana Winatho and eventual bronze medallist Jutamas Khonkham.
In both the 400m and 400m hurdles, Dipna was second to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Huyen of Vietnam who set a new Games record in the 400m hurdles with her 56.06s. Nguyen, who was seventh at the 2014 Asian Games, won the 400m with 52.48s. In the 400m final, Dipna had to also fend off the challenge of another Thai, 20-year-old Supanich Poolkerd, who eventually finished third.
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