The "worst thing" that could happen in a 110m hurdles race became a reality for Ang Chen Xiang yesterday, but the national hurdler made the best of the situation to post a national record of 14.25 seconds at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha.
The record is pending ratification by Singapore Athletics.
Ang had hit the first hurdle hard during the race and he panicked momentarily before regaining his composure to lower his own national mark by 0.01sec.
"I smashed the first hurdle and it flipped... that's the worst thing you can do in a race because it kills all the momentum that you build in the first seven to eight steps," said the 24-year-old, who did not qualify for today's final after placing fifth in his heat and 13th overall.
"The first thought that went through my mind was, 'Oh no' but, a split second later, I just went on autopilot mode and picked myself up.
"That's where the years of competing and training came in, and I continued attacking each hurdle and moving fast."
It is Ang's third national record in less than a month. At the March 28-29 Singapore Open Track and Field Championships, he lowered the mark twice in one day - 14.27sec in the heats and 14.26sec in the final.
Recalling that he let out a relieved laugh upon seeing that he improved a national record by 0.01sec again yesterday, he added: "I know the race was fast because you're running with the best in Asia and it's going to be a fast race. I wasn't sure what time I'd be running because I didn't know how to factor in the fact that I hit the hurdle hard."
Ang's main aim this season is to win a medal at the SEA Games in the Philippines at the end of the year, and yesterday's performance has given him an extra shot of confidence as he knows he can go faster.
"If I hadn't hit the first hurdle, I know it would've been a (better) time," said Ang, who starts work as a house officer at the National University Hospital on May 2.
"I have to go back and work on my starts again to make sure it's more consistent, and work on moving faster over the hurdles.
"I'm happy that despite hitting the first hurdle, I was able to pick myself up and finish the race strong."
Meanwhile, sprinter Shanti Pereira clocked 23.96sec in the first round of the 200m yesterday. The 22-year-old finished third in her heat but did not qualify for the semi-finals.