SEA Games: Women's 4x100m team breaks 45sec barrier, rewrites national record

Shanti Pereira passes the baton to anchor runner Nur Izlyn Binte Zaini during the SEA Games women's 4x100 relay on Aug 25, 2017.
Shanti Pereira passes the baton to anchor runner Nur Izlyn Binte Zaini during the SEA Games women's 4x100 relay on Aug 25, 2017.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - For the entire athletics season, they had not gone below 45.6 seconds and breaking the 45.41sec national record remained an elusive goal.

On Friday (Aug 25), the Singapore women's 4x100m sprint team surprised themselves by rewriting the books with a new mark of 44.96sec at Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Jalil Stadium.

The team, comprising Wendy Enn, Dipna Lim-Prasad, Shanti Pereira and Nur Izlyn Zaini, finished fourth behind Vietnam (43.88 sec), Thailand (44.62 sec) and the Philippines (44.81 sec) at the SEA Games. Vietnam's gold-medal time was also a new Games record.

"It's really special for the team because we have been gunning for it (the record) the whole year," said Lim-Prasad. "We've always fallen short and our season's best is only 45.6, so to go below 45sec is epic for us."

Despite not having a medal to show for, spirits remain high.

"We were going for something faster than 45.4sec, but to go below it by so much is like, 'Yes!'" continued a delighted Lim-Prasad. "We surprised ourselves today and are really excited. It's okay we didn't get a medal."

The previous record of 45.41sec was set at the last SEA Games held in Singapore two years ago by Enn, Lim-Prasad, Pereira and Smriti Menon .

The relay also offered Pereira a welcome distraction after she finished third in the 200m on Wednesday, and was visibly distraught after losing the crown she won in sensational fashion two years ago.

Pereira said: "After the 200m, I was definitely disappointed, but I had to re-focus because I had two more relays to go, and that is what we did as a team.

"It's pretty amazing, what we did today. We were all gunning for the national record and knew we had it in us, and we finally did it so it's some achievement for the team."

Mainly an individual sport, the relay offers arguably the only team aspect to the athletes in athletics, and is something Lim-Prasad values highly.

"It's very special (to break the record) but it's also different," she said. "For the relay you run not just for your country but for your teammates as well.

"So it's really something you dig deeper for and you really run all-out for your friends. It's really a team effort."