Sprinters Hariz Darajit, Timothee Yap, Calvin Kang and Khairyll Amri may have clocked 40.5 seconds in the 4x100m at the Selangor Open, but Singapore Athletics' technical director Volker Herrmann is confident the quartet are on track to qualify for the August SEA Games.
In order to earn their ticket to Kuala Lumpur, they need to either match or go below 39.32sec by June 15, which is when the qualifying window closes.
Their 40.5sec effort at the University of Malaya's UM Arena on Saturday bagged them a silver medal. It was their second time competing together as a relay team, after their first outing at last month's Singapore Open at the National Stadium. There, they won silver in 40.34sec.
Speaking to The Straits Times in a phone interview from Malaysia, Herrmann said he was pleased with the improvements in baton exchanges between runners at the May 13-14 meet.
The German, who joined the national set-up last month, is also happy the athletes coped well with fatigue and weather conditions that were less than ideal.
"It was raining in the afternoon and most of our guys had already run at least two races (before the relay). They were a bit tired, so for me 40.5sec is very good," he said.
You can feel they're all really committed to performing well, and that's the reason I'm very optimistic.
VOLKER HERRMANN, Singapore Athletics' technical director, on the strong team spirit.
Anchor runner Khairyll (10.79sec), Rio Olympics wild card Yap (10.71sec) and 2008 Olympian Kang (10.56sec) were among the sprinters who clocked their season-best times last weekend. Hariz (10.85sec) posted a personal best.
Herrmann believes these improvements in their individual performances bode well for the relay.
They will next compete at the #CelebrateAthletics Meet on May 20 and 27 at Bishan Stadium, followed by the June 12-15 Thailand Open.
Herrmann said that leading up to these competitions, the athletes will work on their individual techniques, as well as continue to perfect their baton-passing skills.
"Our exchanging technique is already quite good, so we'll focus a bit more on increasing the speed of the baton exchange itself and try to optimise the number of steps between runners," he added.
Khairyll, 24, was equally optimistic. "The chemistry (among the runners) has been a lot better since the Singapore Open," he said.
"We only had one relay session after the Singapore Open, but I think this is a good first step in the right direction."
Team-mate Yap, 22, agreed. While he admitted that he was "not very satisfied" with the relay team's time, he said he was heartened and grateful for his team-mates' commitment to running a good race.
The Singapore 'B' relay team comprising Lim Yao Peng, Ariff Januri, Tan Zong Yang and Kishen Ragupaty competed in the heats in heavy rain with the local organisers' permission, which gave the 'A' team a chance to rest ahead of the final.
Said Yap: "This really was a team effort, and it showed everyone's commitment to doing well in the 4x100m. If we put our individual interests first, we will never be able to run a good relay."
Herrmann was also impressed by the camaraderie shown by Singapore's athletes over the weekend.
"It's very nice to see that there is very good spirit among the whole team - not just among the relay athletes," said the 32-year-old. "You can feel they're all really committed to performing well, and that's the reason I'm very optimistic."