Lui Yuan Chow battled injury for the better part of two years and even lost some confidence in himself, but the 19-year-old never struggled to stay motivated on the track.
His persistence paid off when he set a national record of 3min 51.51sec in the 1,500m during the Vic Milers track and field meet in Melbourne on Thursday.
The record is pending ratification by Singapore Athletics.
The Australia-based Singaporean, who finished sixth in the race, was pleasantly surprised by his result.
Recalling that he had clocked 4:02 in a time trial just four days before the race, he told The Straits Times: “Honestly, I haven’t had a good race in a while so I really wasn’t expecting anything.
“I wasn’t planning to do anything or (achieve) any times, I just ran it. With about a lap to go, I felt good and I just ran…
” I (thought) I saw a 3:52 and that I beat my personal best, so I was super happy. After the race, I realised I ran 3:51 and I thought, ‘That’s awesome’. “
The previous national record of 3:51.59 was set by Chamkaur Dhaliwal Singh in 2002.
Lui had recorded his old personal best of 3:54 in January last year, but was sidelined after spraining his right ankle a few months later.
After recovering and resuming training, he then suffered a knee injury at the end of last year, and returned to training only in February.
As a result of the injuries, he could not clock his full mileage during training, and he estimates that he has been “training solidly” only for the last six months.
“All I remember is that I ran well in training until I went overseas (to Japan for the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in June), and maybe I was overstraining or my body wasn’t used to it because I didn’t have consistency in my training,” said Lui, a first-year student at La Trobe University.
“I didn’t race very well. It was demoralising. I was running really badly, so I decided to take time off and focus on the basics.”
For a week after the Asian Junior Athletic Championships, Lui jogged once a day to “slowly reset everything”.
Asked how he did not lose hope during that period, he replied: “I love this sport. I don’t run just to race or to win and it’s not just about (clocking) times for me.
“This is something I’m really passionate about, it’s literally a part of my life… I’m just doing what I can to be better tomorrow.”
His time meets the qualifying mark (3:53:68) for next year’s SEA Games, which is pegged to the bronze-medal time from last year’s edition in Kuala Lumpur.
But Lui’s focus for next year is simply on running faster.
“I still have a lot of room to improve,” he said, adding that he needs to work on being consistent without getting injured.
“(This result) has definitely got me a lot more motivated now and I’m going to continue to train hard and work towards continuing to lower my personal best.”
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