Athletics: Sean rewrites national record, again

Sean Lim in his record-breaking jump on Monday.

SINGAPORE - For the second time in four months, Sean Lim has broken the national record for the pole vault.

At the Singapore Athletics Association Track and Field Series 2 Meet at the Gombak Stadium on Monday, the 20-year-old cleared 4.90 metres to break his old mark of 4.83m set last October.

This is the fourth time Sean has raised the bar since he broke Mok Hay Foo's 18-year-old mark of 4.66m by clearing 4.80m in 2011 as a 17-year-old.

With each record-breaking jump, Sean gives coach David Yeo confidence that a medal is within sight when the South-east Asia (SEA) Games rolls into Singapore next year.

Especially when both athlete and coach were not entirely happy yesterday despite the new record.

"I'm thankful to break the record but I'm a little disappointed too because my coach and I were targeting the five-metre mark," Sean told The New Paper, after he failed in his attempt at 5.01m.

IMPROVEMENT

"But it's still an improvement and I'm grateful for my coach's guidance. We really pushed hard during training.

"I definitely want to contend for a medal in the SEA Games next year. This new record shows that it is possible to fight for a medal as long as I keep working hard and improving."

Sean finished joint-fifth at last December's SEA Games in Myanmar, posting a best effort of 4.80m. Thailand's Kreeta Sintawacheewa took gold with 5.15m, Malaysia's Iskandar Alwi bagged the silver (5.10m) and Thailand's Sompong Saombankuay picked up the bronze (5m).

While Yeo felt his protege is good enough for his first SEA Games medal in 2015, he warned that the rest of the region will also be improving.

The goal now is for Sean to reproduce his form in training - where he has hit 5.20m - during competition.

"It is a psychological thing. He has cleared 5.20m in training, so it's about doing it in competition now," said Yeo.

"He tends to rush when it comes to competition, but we will work on it.

"The situation is better now that he has completed his National Service so he has more time to train, but he will be busy juggling medical school when his term starts, so we will have to manage that, too."

Even as Sean celebrated his new national record with his trademark clenched fists and roar, he remembered his fallen teammate, Zaki Sapari, the 22-year-old national hurdler who died in a motorcycle accident last Friday.

"Zaki was a great friend and an inspiration to me," he said.

"He constantly pushed his limits and strove for excellence in athletics.

"He would often encourage and motivate fellow athletes, especially prior to the last SEA Games.

"Zaki has left a legacy on the athletics scene and I sincerely extend my condolences to his family."

"I definitely want to contend for a medal in the SEA Games next year."

davidlee@sph.com.sg


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