SINGAPORE - She began training for the triple jump only this year, but that has not stopped Tia Louise Rozario from improving by leaps and bounds as she rewrote the national record for the second time in three months.
At the Hong Kong Inter-City Athletics Championships on Sunday (June 23), the 19-year-old improved her previous mark set in March by 10 centimetres with her final attempt of 12.26 metres. That clinched her the gold medal ahead of Hong Kong's Vera Chan, who jumped 11.93m.
Rozario told The Straits Times: "I feel blessed to have achieved a personal best today. After a tough fight in the long jump event yesterday (she claimed bronze with a 5.74m leap), I was surprised with the positive outcome today.
"It was important that I remained calm in the excitement of the competition. I was up against tough competitors and my coach guided me in keeping my composure and focusing on my own jumps and pre-jump routine.
"Right before my sixth final attempt, there was a sudden moment of strong tailwind (+1.9m/s, within the accepted limits of 2m/s for records) which worked to my advantage.
"Moving forward, I am hopeful of better distances as I still have a lot to work on."
Rozario is the only Singaporean born in this millennium to own an athletics national record.
In March, she was the first recipient of the Joseph Schooling Sports Grant, a $5,000 cash award to support talented Eurasians in their sporting and academic pursuits.
In August, she will start school at the Princeton University in the United States, where she aims to pursue her sporting aspirations as a student-athlete and compete for the Princeton Tigers in long jump and triple jump.
While Rozario has yet to meet the SEA Games qualifying marks - the third-place triple jump and long jump distances in the 2017 edition were 13.32m and 6.45m respectively - Singapore Athletics may nominate Under-23 athletes who are four per cent off the mark.
Rozario, whose personal best in the long jump is 5.86m, said: "Since I have just started training in the triple jump this year, I understand that it might take some time before I reach the qualifying standard.
"I have not met the SEA games mark yet, but that will not stop me from trying."