Tag Archives: Prema Govindan

The previous SAA management is wholly at fault for the timing system fiasco that Dipna had to suffer

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Dipna denied by glitches (The Straits Times, 4 April  2011)

Electronic timing system fails, so her national marks aren’t recognized

By Terrence Voon

POOR Dipna Lim-Prasad. The 19-year-old sprinter and hurdler was in sizzling form at the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) Track and Field Series 3 at Nanyang Polytechnic yesterday, ‘breaking’ two national records.

But a historic day for the youngster turned sour when she learnt that both ‘records’ – in the 100m hurdles and the 200m – would not stand because of a glitch in the electronic timing equipment.

Had the timings been admitted, seasoned observers say it would have been the first time a Singapore track athlete had set two national records in different events on the same day.

Instead, it was a weekend in which nothing went right for Dipna. On Saturday, she was disqualified from the 100m dash after a false start.

Yesterday came the 100m hurdles, when her time of 14.30sec would have lowered the previous national record of 14.56, which she set in January. But a technical malfunction put paid to the feat in her pet event.

Later, the electronic timing system failed to work again in the 200m, where she clocked 24.50sec. The result, had it stood, would have broken Prema Govindan’s 26-year-old time of 24.54sec.

A disappointed Dipna said the technical problems had ‘shattered her dreams’. ‘I didn’t false start, the headwind was okay, everything was there,’ she added. ‘But I forgot to pray for the electronic timing to work.’

The timing system used by the SAA, called FinishLynx, has been in service since the 1990s. Breakdowns are rare, said SAA’s general manager Ong Yeok Phee, although there were at least four instances yesterday when it failed.

But Dipna’s coach Slava Vassiliev said a similar problem occurred at the previous week’s Singapore Press Holdings Schools Relay Championships.

‘They must buy a new system because this is not the first time something like this has happened in competition,’ he said. ‘People want to qualify for the South-east Asia Games and break national records.’

The SAA has clarified that it will still recognise Dipna’s results – under a category for hand-timed national records.

But that is little consolation for the Nanyang Technological University freshman, who had returned to the track recently after a year-long injury layoff. ‘They have acknowledged my efforts, but to me it’s not official,’ she said.

Her next race is at the Thailand Open in two weeks’ time, where she hopes to meet the 100m hurdles’ SEA Games qualification time of 14.21.

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My thoughts:

I was so dismayed when I read this and I cannot begin to imagine the huge sense of disappointment Dipna must be feeling.

But to be honest, I don’t think all blame should be shouldered by the current management of the Singapore Athletics Association. I strongly feel that the accusing finger should be pointed at the previous regime.

During his running battle with the Singapore Sports Council, during the period when the SSC stopped its funding of the SAA, then-president Loh Lin Kok had proudly and cockily boasted that the national body had enough funds (reportedly more than $1 million) in reserve to keep going on its own steam for a while.

Now this in turn begs the question: if there were enough funds, then why wasn’t any of it ever used to upgrade the electronic timing system?

I mean, the ST report says that the current system used by the SAA, which failed four times during last weekend’s Track and Field Series 3, has been in service since the 1990s. So, shouldn’t that have raised alarm bells a long time ago?

How can one reasonably expect electronic systems to last for 10 to 15 years when laptops and other gadgets these days have a shelf life of up to five years? Where was the foresight and forward planning in the SAA back then?

And now it has led to such an unnecessary  fiasco, and it has rendered a historic feat by a rising talent completely meaningless. And to think that the previous management had officials and coaches with such high-level IAAF credentials and qualifications. Shame on them!

I am not going to blame the  current SAA management entirely even if the system had supposedly failed during the Singapore Press Holdings School Relay Championships. I really don’t think they could have gotten a new replacement in such a short space of time.

But the national body must now do the right thing by its athletes and buy a new timing system as soon as possible so that such incidents do not happen again.

As for Dipna, I can only hope that she is not badly affected by this incident and that she will bounce back from it in the most stunning way.

I am crossing my fingers too that she will gain confidence from the fact that she did break the two national records nevertheless, and use that to push herself to an encore performance at later meets and qualify for the South-east Asia Games.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

 

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Newsbreak: Dipna Lim-Prasad breaks national hurdles record twice in a day

Dipna Lim-Prasad made a stunning return to her pet event – the 100m hurdles – this afternoon after spending a year away from the discipline because of an ankle injury.

The 19-year-old Nanyang Technological student ended up breaking her own national record not once, but twice, at the Singapore Athletics Association’s Track and Field Series 1 meet at the Bukit Gombak Stadium.

She first broke her record of 14.72sec in the morning by clocking 14.69sec in her heat – and then surpassed it with a magnificent 14.56sec effort in the final in the afternoon.

The result comes as a pleasant surprise as Dipna, who is coached by Georgian Viatcheslav Vassiliev,  had spent the whole of last year away from the hurdles on the advice of her doctors. Today’s races were her first in the event since late 2009.

Prior to that, she had set the national record of 14.72sec in September 2009.

To maintain her competitive edge during her stay away from the hurdles, Dipna subsequently turned to the sprints – and found herself making the headlines in November when she clocked the fastest time in the 200m since 1984.

Her time of 24.68sec at the IVP Track and Field Championships is the best time clocked by a woman sprinter since Prema Govindran’s 24.54sec in 1984.

A month later, she lowered that time further when she clocked 24.61sec at the Asean University Games.

So if she continues to work on her sprints, on top of her hurdles, the chances are high that we could well see her name alongside two national records in the near future – the 100m hurdles and the 200m.

The Singapore Sports Fan would like to congratulate Dipna and her coach on their wonderful feats today. Here’s to more record-breaking performances from Dipna this year (including one perhaps in the 200m?)

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Valerie Pereira on verge of breaking 26-year-old national 200m mark

Ladies and gentlemen, I have great news for you: Valerie Pereira is back and looking mighty fine on the track.

The 20-year-old sprinter — who made people sit up and gape back in 2004 and 2005 with her national age-group record-breaking feats in the 200m before disappearing into oblivion — is back in action and judging from her lastest time, firmly on track to realising her potential as one of Singapore’s best female sprinters since Prema Govindan.

According to my sources, she clocked a stunning 24.86sec in the 200m heats in the Vietnam Open today to qualify for the final. That’s just 0.32sec shy of Govindan’s national 200m record of 24.54 set in 1984.

If I am not mistaken, it also makes her the first Singapore woman sprinter since Govindan to clock a sub-25sec time.

Track and field enthusiasts have been waiting far too long for Valerie to achieve this sub-25sec timing.

Many of us, in fact, thought she would do it in 2006 after she, at the tender age of just 15,  recorded a new national Under-17 record of 25.14 in November 2005.

But sadly, that breakthrough never came as Valerie spent the next few years in the athletics wilderness as she lost her form and momentum, and quite possibly her motivation.

But things have been looking up for her ever since she returned from Germany at the end of 2009 (where she spent almost a year training with Rainer Paul, her former coach from the Singapore Sports School).

I understand that she’s been training with local coach and Wings Athletics Club president Melvin Tan since her return.

My sources also tell me that Tan was quietly confident that Valerie would start chalking some spectacular times by July and indeed he has been proven right.

I am so happy to see that  Valerie is back. I had feared that she had burnt out and that we would never see her realise her full potential as a 200m and 400m specialist.

Valerie will be running in the 200m final tomorrow morning and I will be keeping my fingers crossed that she will break Govindan’s record. But even if she doesn’t, I will be very happy if she can clock another sub-25sec timing. Because that means that the national 20om record is going to go down sooner or later.

Great job, Valerie. All the best in the final. I can’t wait to hear from my sources tomorrow.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Post-script (19 July 2010):

Valerie finished third in the 100m final this morning. She clocked a very decent time of 25.18sec. My heartiest congratulations to her.

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