Sprinter Diane Hilary Pragasam, 13, has always wanted to emulate the achievements of her role model, SEA Games sprinter Shanti Veronica Pereira, who is entered in the 100m and 200m events in June.
Yesterday, the Singapore Sports School (SSP) student did what Shanti had done previously when she clinched her fourth gold at the National Inter School Track and Field Championships.
SSP alumnus Shanti had achieved the same feat back-to-back in 2010 and 2011.
On the last day of competition at SSP which featured only the 4x400m relays, Diane anchored SSP's win in the C Division girls' event with a comfortable buffer over her closest rival from Nanyang Girls' High School.
"We went through the same paths and train under the same coach... she (Shanti) cheers me up at times, and pushes us on during training," said Diane, who had also clinched the 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay golds in dominant fashion at the championships.
Diane is also the only athlete to win four golds at this year's edition.
SSP swept all four relays - B and C Division boys and girls - that they contested yesterday.
Having come in second last month at the SPH Schools Relay Championships to Nanyang Girls' High School (NYGH), the quartet of Diane, Raine Oh, Zann Oh and Nur Ria Isabelle Suhimi were determined to make amends on their home turf this time around.
Thanks to a tactical switch, with Diane switching from second to fourth runner, and with Raine swopping with her, they were able to open up a sizeable lead by the time the baton was passed to Diane.
"I want to thank my teammates who helped me to open up the gap," added Diane, who joins other SSP alumni who had bagged four golds, such as Ismi Zakiah Kashful Anwar in 2014 and Eugenia Tan in 2012. "I didn't know that winning four golds at my level was going to be this hard...but I really wanted it so I tried my best," said Diane.
Her next target is to qualify for the Western Australia Little Athletics International Athletics Championships and stand on the podium.
Diane, who discovered her passion for athletics in Primary 3 in Northland Primary, honed her talents under MOE's Junior Sports Academy Programme.
Her parents, 11-year-old sister and grandmother turn up to watch her events whenever they can. "We told her, you do your best, see where it takes you and we will support you," said her father Christopher Pragasam, 42, a civil servant.
This article was first published on April 25, 2015.
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