Under no pressure and expectations, Singapore's Dipna Lim-Prasad delivered her most sparkling sprint to date, shocking even herself as she smashed Prema Govindan's 29-year-old national 200m record of 24.54sec on Saturday.
"This is a big, big surprise," said the breathless 22-year-old after her 24.36 burst at the Singapore Under- 23 Open Track and Field Championships.
"I was just testing out my speed because this event wasn't my priority."
As it turned out, her spikes were working just fine - with no wind assistance - at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
In a thrilling photo finish, the Nanyang Technological University student pipped national 100m record holder Shanti Pereira to the line by just 0.21sec. Tyra Ree Summer was third in 26.39.
Shanti, 17, had equalled Govindan's 200m record earlier in July at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
"I was in the lane in front of Shanti so it was intimidating hearing her footsteps on the curve," said Lim-Prasad, who also holds the national 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles records.
"Towards the end, I got in the zone and tried not to think about her."
Lim-Prasad's momentous run - her previous personal best was 24.61s set in 2010 - earned high praise from Govindan, who was her teacher during her Singapore Sports School days.
The 47-year-old said: "I'm glad it's Dipna who broke my record.
"With the likes of her and Shanti, athletics in Singapore has a really bright future."
Lim-Prasad's time, however, was still 0.3sec slower than the qualifying mark of 24.06 for the Dec 11-22 SEA Games.
She is slated to compete in the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m race in Myanmar.
There is a slight disagreement between her and her coach Viatcheslav Vassiliev on whether she should aim for inclusion in the 200m as well.
Said the Georgian, who has coached Lim-Prasad for six years: "The 200m was a way for us to get her into the competition spirit for the Malaysia Open in two weeks' time.
"Dipna will be focusing on the 400m hurdles as I believe she has greater potential in the event."
The sprinter herself, on the other hand, has not given up hope of impressing selectors.
She said: "I hope to get the green light (for the 200m) just to gain some experience.
"That will put me in good stead for my main goal, which is to end up on the podium at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore."
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