A disagreement with Singapore Athletics Association and a recent injury suffered in training were untimely distractions.
However, they did not stop pole vaulter Rachel Yang from setting a new national record at the Thailand Open Track and Field Championships near Bangkok yesterday.
Despite picking up an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in July last year, the 35-year-old leapt 3.91m at the Thammasat University Sport Complex to break her own record by one centimetre.
She told The Straits Times that the achievement came as a surprise as she did not expect it.
She said: "Today was just the execution of technique.
"The two weeks leading up (to the Open) weren't too good. I injured my heel in one of the attempts while trying a new pole during training because I didn't land in the pit safely.
"I didn't train that much because of that, and I was also affected by my (previous) ACL injury."
Yang broke the previous national record of 3.90m, just over two years to the day she set it on home soil at the 2015 SEA Games.
More significantly, she also defeated Thailand's Chayanisa Chomchuendee at 3.70m to win at the Open. Chayanisa was second on 3.55m while fellow Singaporean Justina Chan was third on 3.40m.
It was the first time she had overcome the 2015 SEA Games gold medallist since the pair's first meeting in 2010.
However, the Republic's top female vaulter remains wary. She still regards Chayanisa, who vaulted 4.10m at the 2015 SEA Games, as one of her main rivals at the Aug 19-30 SEA Games.
Said Yang, who is aiming for gold in Kuala Lumpur: "I cannot be too complacent because I think she underestimated her opponents when she saw the start list.
"She's the reigning (SEA Games) champion. We know she'll perform well."
The 2015 SEA Games silver medallist welcomed the improvement in results, and said: "It gives me a lot of confidence. It tells me that the goals we set are right and it's a good sign that everything's going okay."
Yang is currently training six days a week, and is focused on managing her training load to prevent a relapse of her injuries.
She heads to Hong Kong next weekend for the Inter-City Athletics Championships.