SEA Games: Jannah, Dipna eye the big arena

SEA Games: Jannah, Dipna eye the big arena
WORKING HARD: Dipna Lim-Prasad (far left) and Jannah Wong (left).

Dipna Lim-Prasad ended Singapore's 16-year-wait for a medal in women's track events when she won a bronze in the women's 400m hurdles at the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

Last year, Jannah Wong broke Lim-Prasad's national record of 14.29sec in the 100m hurdles, clocking 14.14 at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Taiwan.

While Wong, 18, is simply gunning to qualify for her first SEA Games this year, Lim-Prasad believes home-ground advantage gives her a shot at gold in her third outing at the regional event.

Lim-Prasad's bronze-winning time of 59.96sec made her the first Singapore woman to go under 60 seconds in the 400m hurdles, and the 23-year-old is aiming to set a new mark in her pet event this time.

"I am definitely looking to improve my personal best so that I can in turn improve my podium finish," she told The New Paper recently.

"There are a lot of unexpected things that can happen, but I believe I have a fighting chance to win gold."

Thai Wassana Winatho won gold at the last Games in 58.85.

The South-east Asian record is 56.78, set by another Thai, Reawadee Srithoa, in 1991.

While Lim-Prasad identified Wassana and Vietnam's Thi Lan Quach - the silver medallist at the last Games - as her biggest rivals, she is focused only on herself.


She said: "There's no point keeping track of other people's timings. It's better to focus on yourself, because even if your rivals are running at a certain timing, it's still not your timing."

Both Lim-Prasad and Wong are training hard as the clock ticks down to the Games, which will be held here from June 5 to 16. Wong is working hard to regain full fitness and improve her hurdling technique.

"I want to try and improve my personal best and reach the minimum qualifying target (13.84) for the SEA Games," she said.

Wong, who resumed training with her coach Melvin Tan immediately after her A levels last year, insists she feels "no pressure".

"I'm not very sure whether I can qualify, but I don't really feel much pressure because I'm still young and there will be many more SEA Games to try and qualify for," she said.

With history on her mind, Lim-Prasad has been hard at work with coach Luis Cunha.

"Coach Luis is trying to change my running technique so I can run better," she said. "We're also working on speed, endurance and strength.

"It's been quite intensive, but it's necessary and I'm slowly getting the hang of it," said Lim-Prasad, who trains four times a week at the Kallang Practice Track, besides gym workouts twice a week.

Lim-Prasad also insisted she feels no added pressure to win on home soil, but believes a gold medal is "attainable", and doing it at the new National Stadium in front of her countrymen would be extra special.

"I don't feel more pressure, because it's something that I also want to achieve and it's something within my grasp," she said.

This article was first published on Jan 26, 2015.
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