Athletics: Track and field team set to shine

Statistics show that with athletes like Shanti Pereira (above) posting season-best performances against her regional rivals, Singapore could perform well at the upcoming SEA Games.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's track and field team are on course for a successful outing at December's biennial South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar.

This, according to statistics compiled by Jad Adrian Washif, a Malaysian who is a member of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians.

Three of the Republic's athletes have posted season-best performances against their regional rivals this year.

Mok Ying Ren clocked 2hr 26min 30sec in the men's marathon at the 2013 Gold Coast Marathon.

Shanti Pereira equalled Prema Govindan's national mark for the women's 200m when she clocked 24.54sec at the World Youth Championships in Ukraine last month and Zhang Guirong threw 15.47m in the women's shot put in China.

Third

Translating the season's rankings into medals, Singapore's athletes would win three golds, two silvers and four bronzes at the 2013 SEA Games, a haul that will see them finish third behind Thailand (9/4/2) and Vietnam (3/4/4).

The rankings are based on results up to the end of last month and offer a glimpse of how countries could perform at the Games, which will be held in Naypyidaw from Dec 11 to 22.

Speaking to The New Paper, Singapore Athletic Association president Tang Weng Fei said: "Our athletes have been performing well and, barring injuries, I don't see why we cannot finish in a similar position at the SEA Games.

"We have been sending our younger athletes out for more competitive exposure in the past few years, to meets such as the Asian Junior Championships or to places such as Taiwan, where the level of competition is higher."

Singapore have not performed well in track and field since the turn of the millennium, with the Republic's best finish coming in the 2003 Games, where the athletics contingent (4 golds, 4 silvers, 1 bronze) ranked fifth out of seven countries.

Based on statistics, Thailand topped the season's best list in 2011, with Malaysia and Indonesia in joint-second place.

Singapore and Vietnam shared bottom spot.

At the SEA Games in Palembang later that year, the Thais topped the medal chart, with Indonesia second. Vietnam bucked the trend in Indonesia, though, finishing in third place.

The Republic ranked sixth out of seven countries with two golds, above only Myanmar.

Myanmar will be expected to do much better as hosts this year.

But Singapore are also expected to shine, with the men's 4x100m team as well as Gary Yeo in the men's 100m primed to challenge.

Shanti is also in line for a breakthrough.

Before her exploits in the 200m, the 16-year-old student set a new national record in the 100m when she ran 11.89sec at the World Youth Championships.

While the teenager was selected by the Singapore National Olympic Council for only the women's 4x400m team for this year's Games - she failed to meet the qualifying times for the two individual sprint events, 11.73sec and 24.06sec, respectively - Tang expects her to run in the 100m and 200m.

Trials

He said: "Each country can send two representatives in the sprint events and, as long as she is on the plane to Myanmar, she will be able to take part, but we will have trials closer to the Games to decide the slots that have not been filled up."

Ten-time SEA Games gold medallist James Wong is in danger of losing his discus crown, though.

The 44-year-old's season-best distance of 50.06m puts him only in third place, behind Thailand' Kwanchai Numsomboon (52.65) and Narong Benjaroon (52.32).

Said Tang: "He has four months to improve on that, but it's also good that we have Zhang Guirong and Du Xuanhui back.

"And the Thais will have an axe to grind with us - our 4x100m boys beat them at the Asian Grand Prix (in Chonburi) and they will want to come back and prove they are South-east Asia's sprint kings."


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