After just six weeks of training, race walker Edmund Sim surprised everyone, including himself, when he rewrote the national men's 20km race walking record with a time of 1hr 36min 1sec at the 2012 Asian Race Walking Championships in Japan.
Suddenly, he was a contender for the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar.
Unfortunately, Sim never made the Singapore team for the Myanmar Games.
He clearly remembers how it all went wrong and, now 31, he is using it as a lesson as he bids to qualify for this year's SEA Games, which will be held on home soil from June 5 to 16.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, he recalled: "I was focused on meeting the targets back then and neglected the basics like base speed and endurance."
Instead of pacing himself, Sim joined a slew of races in a bid to meet the SEA Games qualifying time, and flopped each time. Worse followed when he was disqualified from the 2013 Asian championships while well under his national record, with the finishing line in sight.
Said the civil servant: "I was disqualified just 50m from the finishing line and I was about two minutes under my own national record at the time. I was really down."
Sim seriously contemplated walking away from the sport, even though he had not fulfilled a dream to represent Singapore at the biennial Games when he started race walking as a 13-year-old.
His coaches and friends persuaded him to give it one final shot, and the lure of competing on home ground did the trick. Singapore's organisers are looking at holding the event along Orchard Road, and the prospect of battling it out along the famous strip will thrill the athletes, including Sim.
But he has learnt his lesson and will map out a well-thought out strategy this time around as he looks to qualify for the event.
"I just want to work hard and race hard and not have any expectations as I did a few years ago. Of course, I'm also anxious about making the qualifying time," added Sim.
He will take part in the Singapore Athletic Association Age-Group Race Walking Championships at the end of the month, but sees March's Asian 20km Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan, as the event where he can meet the qualifying standard of 1:36:18, the bronze-medal timing from the 2013 Games.
The Singapore Open Track & Field Championships in end-March will be his final shot at making the Games.
After breaking the national record in 2012, Sim had aimed to retire after competing at the 2013 Games.
Asked whether he would do the same if he made the team this year, he said: "I will decide after the SEA Games, but definitely not before the national 50km championships later this year.
"I've always seen myself as a 50km walker and always wanted to break the national record in that event, but we've never had a 50km here."
This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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