It was the fastest race they had ever run. But try as they did, the Singapore men's 4x100m relay team still could not beat their Thai counterparts yesterday.
For a fourth straight SEA Games, a Singapore quartet had to settle for the silver medal, even though they rewrote the national record in front of a raucous, 8,972-strong crowd at the National Stadium.
Said Calvin Kang, who ran the first leg: "It's bittersweet, emotionally. This is our fastest time ever, but still not good enough for the gold.
"We ran our hearts out today... but when we go back to the hotel, I think we'll feel a bit of a loss."
Coming into the final leg of the relay, anchor runner Amirudin Jamal sprinted with renewed vigour - torso perfectly perpendicular to the ground, arms and legs churning forward with passion.
But try as he might, the gap between him and the leading Thai would not close.
The Singaporeans finished second in 39.24sec, while the Thai quartet managed 38.99. The Indonesian team took bronze in 39.32.
For the Singapore team of Kang, Lee Cheng Wei, Gary Yeo and Amirudin, their effort smashed the previous national record of 39.45, set two years ago at the 2013 Asian Grand Prix.
Yesterday's time would have secured them the gold at the 2013 SEA Games.
A frustrated Yeo said: "Nobody likes to keep getting silver. Every time we race, we race to get a gold."
Playing second fiddle four times in a row can start to feel like one is eternally overshadowed, and some questions remained unanswered.
As Kang said: "I think all of us are feeling like: Could we have done better? Could we outrun the Thais?
What made the race poignant for all four men was that it was probably their last run together, after a long, fruitful partnership which has seen a couple of them sacrificing their studies to train full-time in their bid for gold.
Said a tearful Yeo: "These are my last SEA Games... Of course I'm sad."
The women's 4x100m team also smashed the national record yesterday - and also suffered the heartbreak of not getting the medal they had hoped for.
Wendy Enn, Dipna Lim-Prasad, Shanti Pereira and Smriti Menon rewrote the national record with a blistering time of 45.41, slashing their old record of 46.44 by more than a second.
Yet, they missed out on the bronze medal, pipped by Malaysia in a photo finish, as the team - as well as the crowd - were made to wait for a few anxious minutes before groaning in disappointment.
Nevertheless, an elated Lim- Prasad said: "Our main goal was to break our national record. To be able to do so, and by so much, it's more than we can ask for."
High jumper Michelle Sng and discus thrower Hannah Lee added to Singapore's tally with a bronze each, although each felt she could have managed a better result.
Sng's 1.81m effort fell short of her personal best of 1.84m, while Lee's 45.72m effort also paled in comparison to her PB of 45.91.
This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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