SINGAPORE - Singapore Athletics technical director Volker Herrmann has defended the inclusion of the men's 4x400m relay team in this year's SEA Games contingent.
The quartet of Dinesh Hulbert Anthony Lawrence, Ng Chin Hui, Zubin Muncherji and Thiruben Thana Rajan have yet to run any qualifying race nor even train together, but Herrmann believes their participation in the Aug 19-30 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur is the right choice.
"We know Zubin is in good shape and Thiruben just clocked 47.91 seconds at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Under-18 Championships (last month), so we knew we might have a faster team than last year's," he told The Straits Times.
"The Singapore National Olympic Council was willing to send this young team to the competition to gain some experience... they're young and promising athletes and we believe the SEA Games will offer them a good chance to grow as athletes and be prepared for the 2019 SEA Games and the (2018) Asian Games."
Herrmann was at the launch of the competition attire for national track and field athletes' participation in major games.
The launch took place at the 2XU Performance Centre at Suntec City on Friday (Aug 4).
Ng, 23, is the oldest of the quartet. Muncherji is 21, while Thiruben and Hulbert are aged 17 and 18 respectively.
Explaining that baton exchange techniques for the 4x400m relay are less complicated than for the 4x100m relay, Herrmann added: "My expectation for this team (at the SEA Games) is that they improve on their season's best - I would say that this young team can run 3min 12sec at the SEA Games."
The bronze medal timing for the 2015 SEA Games was 3:08:48, clocked by Vietnam.
Thiruben's 47.91sec effort in the 400m race at last month's World Under-18 Championships was a new national under-18 record, while Muncherji registered a hand-timed 47.5sec in the United States two months ago. Ng's season-best timing is 48.84sec, while Hulbert's is 48.88sec.
Singapore's last SEA Games medal in the men's 4x400m relay came in the 2011 edition in Palembang, where Ng, Zaki Sapari, Kenneth Khoo and Lance Tan won bronze.
At the 2015 Games on home soil, Khoo, Tan Zong Yang, Seow Yeong Yang and Raymond Lee were fifth.