13 June 17 The Straits Times by NICHOLAS DE SILVA
National track and field athlete Ang Chen Xiang shaved 0.19 seconds off his previous mark to lower the national record in the men's 110m hurdles at the Thailand Open yesterday.
The 23-year-old crossed the finish line in 14.19sec, placing a creditable sixth against the continent's top athletes in the final.
"This is of tremendous significance to me, as I took a gap year in my final year of school to pursue my athletic endeavours, and the decision is beginning to bear fruit," said the National University of Singapore medical student of his new record.
South Korea's 2014 Asian Games silver medallist Kim Byung Jun also clocked a national record of 13.39sec as he won the final.
Thailand's Jamras Rittidet finished in second place with 13.88sec, while Filipino Patrick Ma Unso was third with 13.91sec, also a national record.
Ang had first broken the national record two years ago, when he shattered Abdul Hakeem Halim's seven-year-old mark of 14.45sec by 0.01sec at the 2015 Singapore Open.
He then beat his own mark again at the SEA Games later that year, clocking 14.38sec during the heats.
Although Ang was included in the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) provisional list of athletes selected for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30, his spot is not guaranteed yet.
To do so, he had to equal Ma Unso's bronze-medal timing of 14.12sec at the last SEA Games.
Despite falling shy of the automatic qualification criteria, his new personal best still puts him up for consideration as it is well within the 97 per cent of the third-place result (faster than 14.30sec) delineated by Singapore Athletics Association (SAA).
The qualifying window closes on Thursday, when the SAA's selection panel convenes to decide on the final list of athletes who will be competing at the Kuala Lumpur Games.