SINGAPORE - A change of coach and training environment worked wonders for Calvin Quek, as the 25-year-old finally broke the national men's 400m hurdles record on Wednesday (Feb 23) after chasing it for four years.
Quek clocked 51.73 seconds at the Singapore Athletics SEA Games Trial 2022 at the Home of Athletics to eclipse the previous mark of 52.44sec set by Ow Yeong Wei Bin in 2019.
He credited his performance to his coach Luis Cunha, whom he has been training with since August last year.
"My coach and I were expecting it, like there was a chance. But to be able to do it while running alone was honestly quite unbelievable," said the 25-year-old, whose previous personal best was 53.08sec.
The Nanyang Technological University student previously worked with a different coach at Nanyang Polytechnic, but that changed when the pandemic struck as he was no longer able to attend training sessions in the school.
Instead, Quek trained alone at the Home of Athletics in Kallang, following the workout sets from his coach, who was working pro bono. But he felt the arrangement was not ideal and sought out Cunha.
He said: "When I approached him (Cunha), I told him that one of my goals was to break the national record so we've been working towards it. After much consideration, I thought he was the best coach to go to."
He now trains alongside Singapore's top sprinters such as SEA Games gold medallist Shanti Pereira, which is a welcome change from his previous arrangement.
Quek is now hoping to get his debut at the Hanoi SEA Games team as his time is just 0.13sec off the qualifying mark of 51.60sec.
He said: "Ever since I've been running track, one of the goals for many of us has been to go to the SEA Games. I'm going to pray very hard that my nomination goes through and if it does, hopefully I can try to fight for the medal."
The SEA Games trial on Wednesday also saw the women's 4x100m relay team attempting to meet the Games' qualifying time of 45.17sec. But the quartet of Pereira, Elizabeth-Ann Tan, Kugapriya Chandran and Bernice Liew clocked 46.95sec and 46.86sec in two trial events and will be looking to appeal to the Singapore National Olympic Council for inclusion in the Games.