S'pore men's quartet fall short

Kang & Co banking on SNOC nod to make SEA Games after failing to qualify in final try

The Singapore men's 4x100m relay team failed to meet the qualifying mark for the SEA Games yesterday, clocking 40.5 seconds at the Thailand Open Track and Field Championships.

The quartet, comprising Hariz Darajit, Timothee Yap, Calvin Kang and Khairyll Amri, were sixth yesterday while Thailand (39.54sec), Hong Kong (39.84sec) and Malaysia (40.02sec) took the top three places.

The qualifying mark stands at 39.32sec, pegged to the bronze-medal time from the last SEA Games held in Singapore in 2015.

Their season best remains the 40.34sec they clocked in April when finishing second at the Singapore Open. Hariz, Yap, Kang and Khairyll had also posted 40.5sec at last month's Selangor Open.

According to Singapore Athletics' (SA) website, yesterday was the last day for athletes to qualify for the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur Games.

Appeals will be considered by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) on June 27.

It is believed that Singapore has sent a 4x100m sprint team to every edition of the biennial event since 1989.

Kang admitted that yesterday's race had been "a bit of a setback" as the quartet had been aiming to clock a new season best, but he maintained that there are still positives to take away.

The 27-year-old, the only survivor from the 2015 Games squad following the retirements of Gary Yeo, Lee Cheng Wei and Amirudin Jamal, told The Straits Times the new-look team are still in the process of establishing their most efficient line-up.

Kang, Yeo, Lee and Amirudin won silver on home soil in a national record of 39.24sec. It was a feat that was achieved only after seven years of training together as a quartet, said Kang.

Estimating that the current team have only had about three full months' training together, he added: "From my experience with the previous team, we were all struggling with times that were 40.1sec or 40.2sec but once we broke the 40-second barrier, we knew how to run faster as a team.

"It's not an immediate process... the main thing with the relay is you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each runner. That takes time."

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that improvements have to be made, especially in each runner's individual speed.

"The good part is that our time is starting to stabilise, but the bad part is that we're not improving as much as we hoped," he said.

SA's technical director Volker Herrmann admitted the men's team could have done better.

"Maybe they did too much (during training) and haven't really recovered, so we have to use next week to optimise and focus," added the German.

He was "very happy" with the performance of the women's 4x100m relay team though.

The quartet of Dipna Lim-Prasad, Nur Izlyn Zaini, Shanti Pereira and Wendy Enn were third behind Malaysia (45.19sec) and Thailand (45.29sec) in 45.65sec.

That was 0.24sec off the national record of 45.41sec set by Lim-Prasad, Enn, Shanti and Smriti Menon at the 2015 SEA Games.

While their time also fell short of the Games' automatic qualifying criterion - 45.41sec - their effort could still put them up for consideration as "athletes who miss the qualifying standard marginally but show potential to equal or surpass it in time for the Games may be considered on the case-by-case basis" according to the SA website.

ST understands that SA will submit an appeal with a final list of athletes' names to the SNOC today.

SA president Ho Mun Cheong believes Kang and Co still deserve to compete at the Games.

He said: "This new team are still learning and if they can gel well together, of course they will clock better times."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore men's quartet fall short'. Print Edition | Subscribe