At the time of this article was published, it will be around the tail-end of a 13-hour flight by Olympic debutant Dipna Lim-Prasad from Singapore to London.
The 21-year-old left the city state yesterday, not before being given a rousing send-off by some 200 plus supporters crowding Terminal 3 at Changi Airport.
She is one of two athletics representative; the other a fellow sprinter Gary Yeo, nominated by SAA as the two most promising Singaporean athletes for the two wildcard entry allotted by International Association of Athletics Federations per country which fail to produce athletes who meet qualification standards are granted “wild cards”, which allow them to enter competitors whose abilities are below the required standards.
As the media people swarmed her with questions before her flight, Dipna’s eyes widened slightly at every mentioned of running at the biggest athletics showcase there is, the Olympics.
But her journey to securing her Olympic Games ticket wasn’t always this blessed.
After making the cut for the first batch of Singapore Sports School academic and sports programme in 2004, Dipna was outshone by peers her age and was relegated to second-string status.
But her Georgian coach, Viatcheslav Vassiliev, a former national hurdler himself, saw something in Dipna five years ago that could lead to a potentially successful future in hurdling.
That was the turning point for her.
Since then she has lowered the women 100 metres hurdles national mark four times, and is the second woman after Tang Pui Wah’s 1952 Helsinki appearance to represent Singapore in the women hurdles event.
Name: Dipna Lim-Prasad
PB: 14.23s (100m hurdles), 24. (200m), 57.49s (400m)
Records: Women senior 100m hurdles & 4x400m junior women
Here’s a recent interview with Dipna before she depart for London.
Q) What was your reaction upon hearing of your selection for the Olympics?
Dipna: I had to pinch myself a bit. Ha ha. It takes a while to register that your dream is coming true.
Q) In your wildest dream when you started your athletics journey, would you be imagining that you would be competing at the biggest sporting event in the world.
Dipna: I’m sure that every athlete would have an Olympic dream, no matter how big or small. But having the dream actually come through… I wasn’t as sure.
Yesterday at the airport, Dipna and Gary in their Team Singapore Yonex outfit, posing with their loved ones, supporters, and friends.
Q) What are your expectation(s) for the Games?
Dipna: I hope to do my best –which is to break my current personal best and national record –because that’s all I can do. At the same time, I have to try to not be hyper stimulated and try to be calm and execute my race.
Q) What are you hoping to gain from your experience at London 2012?
Dipna: Learn from other athletes! It’s always eye opening to meet world class athletes who practice very different drills but run the same event.
Q) How and what are your preparation(s) for this meet?
Dipna: My training has become more hurdle specific such that I now have a hurdle component in every single training session versus the previous 2-3 times a week.
Dipna posing with her coach seen here in this photo, Viatcheslav Vassiliev.
Q) What are your plans after the Olympics?
Dipna: I will start a new training phase and aim to peak for the ASEAN university games in December. I hope to improve on my bronze medal position from the previous games.
Q) You are a success product of the Singapore Sports School world-class integrated academic and sports programme. Would you think you could have still achieved similarly, in terms of your success & achievements on & off the track, if you were schooled at another institution other than Sports School.
Dipna: Definitely not. My first sports school coach Mr. Rainer Paul developed me into a strong 400m runner and my second and current coach, Mr. Viatcheslav Vassiliev introduced me to hurdles and it is under him that I broke the 100m Hurdles Jr and National record. I don’t think I would be a national record holder if I didn’t meet Coach Slava. Academic wise, the sports school allowed me to undergo a through-train course that exempted me from ‘O’ Levels (except mother tongue) which enabled me to continue training.
Dipna receives the baton in a relay competition wearing Singapore Sports School colors.
Q) You’re just 21-years-old, already holding 3 records across 4 different age-groups records, and multi-talented not just the hurdles, but the sprints up to 400 metres. Do you think you’re still tinkering with the various events, and have no plans to specialize in a certain discipline? So what is just in the cards for you? Will you specialize, considering it would give you more focus to break more records, or do you plan to keep on doing what you’re doing currently.
Dipna: I’m 21 this year! Well, I would say that I’m currently focused on hurdles. Sprints will always be a part of my training programme simply because I need the base speed to be quick in the hurdles as well. Also, it’s always fun to run different events and allows me to be competitively active while reducing the pressure on myself by running an event I’m not expected to excel as well in.
Q) I reckon we will be seeing you at SEA Games 2015. Any bold predictions considering you’re competing on home-ground? By 2015, what do you hope to accomplish by then.
Dipna: Goodness. Go under 14s! I’ve been trying to go under that for a while now. I hope to win a medal at the Games. It’d be like a home run (haha)!
Dipna future looks bright. Going below 14 seconds in her pet event is her goal comes this Olympic.
Q) Lastly any advice to young budding youth athletes out there thinking, and are currently pursuing an athlete-student similar to yours.
Dipna: Don’t give up. Just keep working at it; your time will come. I joined the sports school with no place for an individual event for me to take part in, I never thought I’d be the one heading to the Olympics. So keep trying, you never know when it’s your turn to shine?
Dipna is scheduled to compete in the 100m hurdles women qualifying round at the XXX Olympic Games on 6th of August, Monday 10:05am London time, or 5:05pm Singapore time. We are +7 hours ahead of London.