SINGAPORE - The 5m mark has been a glass ceiling for Singapore's pole vaulters. But not only has Sean Lim become the first in the country to venture into such uncharted territory with a new national record of 5.01m, he also wants to go beyond that.
After rewriting the books on Sunday at the Singapore Athletics Association (SAA) Track and Field Series 3 meet by a significant 10cm, the 21-year-old wants to have a crack at the 5.25m mark.
Lim, with his third attempt at the height, claimed the national record for the second time in six months, smashing training partner Chan Sheng Yao's 4.91m set last month.
"It is easier coming into the competition and knowing that you've cleared something higher in training," said Lim, who had already gone over 5.20m in training.
Now that the mental block of the elusive 5m height has been conquered in competition, Lim is focused on jumping higher at other meets as well.
His 5.01m mark would have been good enough for bronze at last year's SEA Games in Myanmar, and has allowed him to qualify for the Asian Games in Incheon in September.
The SEA Games' record is held by Thailand's Kreeta Sintawacheewa, who notched 5.21m in the 2009 edition. Last year, he won gold with a 5.15m effort.
However, Lim is looking even further than that, saying: "One of my targets is to go to the Asian Games and compete and, hopefully, to vie for a medal.
"The next one would be to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, which has a qualifying mark of 5.25m. I'm not really there yet, but I'm working on it."
He is set to attend medical school at the National University of Singapore in June, but does not think it would disrupt his plans.
Said Lim, a former Hwa Chong Insitution student: "All along, I've been living the life of a student- athlete, so it's really about time management. But I certainly feel that I can handle both."
Similarly, Sheng Yao has begun to set longer-term targets for himself, starting with the Schools' National Track and Field Championships next month.
"Besides the record, I'll be aiming for 5.05m, which is the qualifying mark for the World Junior Championships," said the 18-year-old Hwa Chong Institution student.
Between Lim and Sheng Yao, the duo have held the Singapore record seven times in the last three years. Mok Hay Foo's 4.66m mark had stood for 18 years from 1993 to 2011. Instead of painting them as rivals, the duo are poster boys for the sport, according to their coach David Yeo. Said Yeo: "Between these two, it's not about rivalry. It's about senior leadership and junior emulation.
"What we want is for pole vault in Singapore to develop further, and not for a single person to dominate the event, but for these athletes to keep bettering themselves and each other."
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