Athletics: Jasmine Goh qualifies for SEA Games marathon after missing out in 2019

Runner Jasmine Goh was delighted to return to the biennial Games after her debut in Kuala Lumpur in 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Out to prove that "age is just a number" at the Zurich Seville Marathon, runner Jasmine Goh clocked 2hour 56min 36sec on Sunday (Feb 20) to earn a spot at the May 12-23 SEA Games in Hanoi.

The 42-year-old had missed out on the 2019 edition after failing to meet the qualifying mark and she was delighted to return to the biennial Games after her debut in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, when she finished fourth.

She said: "I feel extremely privileged to be able to compete for a slot for the SEA Games at this age. I had missed the qualifying time for the SEA Games back in 2019 so this time, I trained really hard to ensure a good chance at qualifying for the Games in Hanoi."

Racing in the cool Spanish winter on a flat course in "one of the most beautiful cities in Europe", Goh said she felt good throughout the run.

"I am ecstatic to run below the qualifying time today at the Sevilla Marathon. I am very grateful that I can still deliver at my age. This goes to show that age is just a number. With proper training, I can still compete strong and inspire others," added Goh, who is a member of Masters Athletics (Singapore).

Goh ran 3:14:36 at the 2017 SEA Games and when asked what her goals are for the Hanoi race, she would only say: "I want to do my best for my country."

Back at the Home of Athletics in Kallang, the national men's 4x400m relay team of Calvin Quek, Reuben Rainer Lee, Ng Chin Hui and Tan Zong Yang missed out on a spot at the SEA Games after clocking 3min 13.12sec at the Singapore Athletics Allcomers Meet 1 on Sunday (Feb 20) - over four seconds off the qualifying mark of 3:08.63.

But the quartet were still smiling after the race, for they had clocked their quickest time together despite missing their two fastest runners Thiruben Thana Rajan and 400m national record holder Zubin Muncherji.

They also earned a spot at this year's Birmingham Commonwealth Games after going below the qualifying mark of 3:16.39, which is the sixth quickest time from the previous edition in Gold Coast, Australia.

Ng said after the race: "The team is ecstatic about our performance. We knew the Commonwealth Games mark was reasonably attainable but to come out here today and better it by three seconds was something else."

The men's 4x400m relay team were not on the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) 330-athlete list for the Hanoi SEA Games announced last Wednesday, but Singapore Athletics' vice-president (training and selection) Gary Yeo said it will be submitting an appeal on their behalf.

Yeo said: "For the 4x400m men's team, they made a very big improvement seeing as they did not have their top runners present. I think they did a good job and ran a timing close to qualification."

Athletes who have yet to meet the qualifying criteria have until early March to meet the selection criteria for the SNOC's appeals committee to consider.

The relay team will travel to Sydney next month to compete in the Australian Track and Field Championships, where they hope to gain more race experience while taking another shot at the SEA Games qualifying mark.

There was no such joy for the women's 4x100m relay team comprising Kugapriya Chandran , Elizabeth-Ann Tan, Shanti Pereira and Clara Goh, who clocked 47.08sec and 47.13sec in two trials on Sunday to miss out on the SEA Games qualifying mark of 45.17sec.

The quartet will get one last chance to try to meet the qualifying time in another trial on Wednesday.

National relay team head coach Luis Cunha said: "The girls were not able to achieve their goal today and so we will try again on Wednesday. We will still appeal with the timing of 46.61sec they set last June.

"Half of the team needed to study for A-levels so it was not very positive in terms of their individual preparation. We will see on Wednesday and analyse what we can shave off their current timing. Today's timing was not enough for qualification and I hope they can do better."

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