SINGAPORE - Forced out of action for months through injury, national runner Dipna Lim-Prasad had to face her own doubts on top of her critics'. But the 25-year-old marked her comeback early Monday (Sunday evening, Portugal time) in Lisbon when she clocke d a new personal best in the 400m.
Her time of 55.59sec placed her third in the San Antonio International Meet. More significantly, her best time in more than three years - breaking the 56sec barrier for the first time - is also the best result from any runner since Chee Swee Lee's 1974 national record.
That mark, a 55.08sec clocked in Iran, is the joint-oldest track and field national record (along with the men's 4x400m mark).
An elated Lim-Prasad told The Straits Times from Lisbon, where she has been for the past three weeks training and competing: "I've been hovering around my old personal best (56.23sec, March 2013) and my season's best (56.33sec, April 2016). It's such a breakthrough for me personally to not just finally get a new personal best, but to break the 56sec barrier.
"It's been an extremely demanding season for me mentally - with my ankle injury having me out of action for three months and physically having to come into the season late and with just two months of training.
"There were quite a few naysayers. It was tough to be written off. But I'm just so grateful to have a great support system behind me," she added, making special mention of her husband and former sprinter Poh Seng Song, family, coach Luis Cunha, friends and sponsors like Nike.
Lim-Prasad was awarded the Athlete Career and Training grant by Sport Singapore just before departing for Portugal, something which she said also helped in her progress.
She said: "It was a big boost allowing me to be worry-free about the financial burden or having the pressure to perform in order to be eligible for reimbursement. It's so important to be able to completely focus on your training and competitions and I think this stint in Portugal has allowed me to do so and enabled me to clock my personal best."
Several other national athletes are also in Portugal competing. Sprinter Timothee Yap also clocked a new best in the 100m, finishing in 10.62sec.