Para athletes are classified into different categories to ensure that the individuals in the categories have the same functionality with others he/she is competing against. It is sorta like a “license” to race, in particular, international races. Although being in the same category, there are always those who are at the top of the category and those who are at the bottom. This meant that although para-athletes are in the same class, they vary in functionality, strength, speed and perform. Given that, a race within a class is as open as it is for an abled body individual. That being said, shifting from one class to the next class is somewhat equivalent to changing the weight class in a boxing match. Imagine a feather weight going up against a middle weight. Gosh. But that’s how it feels like when a T36 meets a T37 in the para-world. Previously I was classified by the Australian “local” body that I am a T37 and without hesitation, I went online to have a look at the timings of some races.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
400m WR 50.91.
100m 11.65 Commonwealth games 2014.
1500m 4:08.11 London paralympics.
“Well, maybe I’m just put in a wrong class. It’s really impossible to be running at that pace…”
So here I am in Beijing, not just to represent Singapore in the 400m and 800m, more importantly, to get my official classification from the International Paralympic Community.
So now, after review and testing from the International Paralympic Community, my official class is indeed still T37.
“Wow. Is that even possible. How in the world will I run at that pace? Are these timing real?”
|Athletics team manager (Loh) and myself after the classification.|
So race day came as I continue to ponder. Maybe because this is my first international duty, I was seriously nervous. I even went for a solo 45min walk, 3 hours prior to my race. As I walked, I couldn’t shake off the pressure and tension that was slowly building up. How am I gonna win this race? ..
Then I remembered, all I have to do is to do my absolute best. If I’m gonna get dropped, kudos to the other runners. It’s time to simply race against the clock, just like how I have always been doing. Time to better my best. Immediately, I started visualize how the 800m merging would be done later. Mental practicing the situation over and over again. And I also prepared myself to be dropped by the field. It was a very sad feeling. To go for a race only to be dropped. Then again, I thought of how I first started out with my Tri mates. I remembered being whooped by a talented 15 year old girl during my 400m repeats and vaporized by the rest of the boys in the 800m run. I smiled. I knew I was ready to run. I had raced with the best before. This is no different. It is my pleasure to race along side such talents.
|My cool Asics Top Impact Line + CyberJapan spikes.|
The winner of my T37 class came in at an astonishing 2:10 for 800m and 53s for 400m. And I found out later that he broke the the Asia record in the 1500m. Now, I do believe the WR, Its simply amazing. Talk about being thrown into the deep end of the pool and competing against the best.
Although I lost both the 400m and 800m, I was pleased that I have my all. My absolute.. And it showed. I broke both my personal best in the 400m and 800m. My coach once said this to me “it is about taking one step forward every single training, every race.” And true enough, as long as I work on myself, focus on doing the right things, I will be able to take more steps towards my goal. Every single step counts. Tokyo 2020.
With this 400m timing, I have unofficially qualified for the ASEAN Para Games. Will have to work on my 1500m because 800m event is unavailable during this meet. Let’s hope something’s left over from my marathon days.
Beijing Open has been a real eye-opener for me. Gonna work harder and to stop limiting myself.
Nil Sine Labore.
|nervously waiting for the 400m|
|visualising just moments before the start of the race.|