Renuka back for another go at 10k

Renuka Satianathan's last competitive race for Singapore was three years ago at the 2011 SEA Games, where she finished last in the 10,000m in Palembang, Indonesia.

Studies, and then work, saw her stop competitive racing for the next two years.

But the 27-year-old is back, and is aiming for a second crack at the SEA Games when it comes to Singapore next year.

Said Renuka: "I realised that I missed training when I started again this year.

"It's also the camaraderie, when you train in a team, and meet familiar faces on the local racing circuit.

"My goal now is to try and qualify for the 10km, especially since it's held locally. I want to have a good run at the National Stadium."

Tomorrow, as part of her training, she will take part in the Great Eastern Women's Run, where she is one of 10 local runners competing in the 21km Singapore Elite closed category. Defending champion Anne Qi Hui is favourite for the title again.

There are also five elite foreign runners from the Philippines, Chinese Taipei and Nepal, racing in the separate closed Elite category, with the two Nepal runners tipped as favourites to win.

Having trained for the 10,000m race for months, Renuka plans on getting some race experience, learning from the top runners, and building up her endurance as she treads patiently towards her goal.

She is still some way off the SEA Games qualifying time of 37min 41.96sec, with her average now just under 40 minutes.

But her personal best is around 37min 15sec, and it gives her hope that she can hit the target before the biennial Games next June.

Said Renuka, a general paper teacher at Innova Junior College: "I started training again earlier this year, and I felt I was doing the long runs comfortably, even the speed work. Some of the times I clocked during training sets were very close to my 2011 times.

"I thought, if I could improve that much in a few months, I could actually compete at the SEA Games."

She is now training under local coach Elangovan Ganesan, who has prescribed a structured training programme.

While she has to juggle a full-time job as she steps up training, Renuka said she has been able to cope with the demands of training every day.

She said: "When you're doing something for yourself, it's not really a sacrifice. I think it's a privilege to be in a position to be able to afford time and energy to devote to a goal like that."

For someone who transformed herself from an overweight 13-year-old struggling in her school's Trim and Fit club into one of the country's top distance runners, Renuka may just be able to defy the odds to have a second shot at SEA Games glory.

This article was first published on Nov 8, 2014.
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