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Shafiq Kashmiri
  • August 8th, 2005

Shafiq Kashmiri

Singapore Athletics caught up with Shafiq Kashmiri and spoke to him about his track commitment, some of the people he trained with and how he views herself. This interviewer recalled once Shafiq commented about himself, “I’m a chatter-box” he laughed then. Yes indeed, Shafiq to his close knit of training partner and friends is a walking, always busy, always doing something chatter-box but friendly and has a sharp sense of humor. His exploits on the track is well-known who has a blistering time over the shorter sprints as well as the quater mile. Read on what this Princeton bound athlete/student has to say

Height: 1.79m

Weight: 61kg

Date of Birth: 19 Jan 1984

Coach: Mr Melvin Tan

Personal Best: 9.07-ET (80m), 10.98-ET (100m), 34.96-HT/35.30-ET (300m), 49.40-ET (400m), 55.95-ET (400mH)

  1. How did athletics become a part of your life?

    Since young, my parents noticed that I loved running. I used to race around in supermarkets by pushing the shopping carts and when in open areas like in the airport, I will simply ‘run’ off with the trolleys and never seemed to tire.

    Despite my enthusiasm for running, my parents did not allow me to take part in competitive sports in my Primary School for fear of my congenital illness – Asthma Bronchitis. But the doctors urged me to take up swimming among other sports to help me fight my Bronchitis problem.

    So I slowly started off with swimming and my Asthma problem gradually became a thing of the past. My parents buoyed by my improvement were more confident in letting me explore other sports such as football and running. So in SJI, although I was new to the track scene (several of my team-mated were already Primary School champions), I started off slowly and managed to go to the Nationals and ran the ‘B’ Div 400mH and 4x400m in 1999.

  2. If you weren’t doing Track, what do you think you would be doing instead now?

    I would be … Actually I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have track.

  3. Describe the greatest moment of your athletic career

    It has got to be my record-breaking run in the 400mH in my JC1. Not because I broke the National Schools’ ‘A’ Div record, but because that was my first individual track medal and I wasn’t even the No.1 400mH in my JC!

    What made this race memorable was the fact that the field was surprisingly strong with several previous 400m and 400mH medal winners, including some National Schools record holders, such as Ian Sim, Kevin Siew, Ang Fu Hong, Sean Ong, Alex Teng and Firdaus.

    If not for that race, I would not have known my true potential. It proved to be the catalyst for my hunger to achieve greater success on the track.

  4. Last season, you did a sub 11sec.. 10.98s to be exact in the 100m. Were you surprised or was it expected

    I always noticed our local sprints’ coaches making comments like a sub-11s sprinter can anytime do a 48 or 49s 400m. It is so easy for them, they will say. So I was sure that the reciprocal should also be true and was badly ‘motivated’ to prove it. But since the 70s and 80s, there has not been a local sprinter to perform consistently well in both 100m and 400m. So I thought that it will be impossible for a 49s 400m runner to run a sub-11s 100m as the mechanics are just too different. I had to work on my basics again like starts, transition, max speed and realized how badly I needed to put on bulk for the shorter sprints.

    I set myself a target of a sub-11s timing by end-2005, but I got my wish a lot earlier. It really felt good knowing that I can do a sub-11s. Something that I hope will inspire other fellow 400m runners to achieve similar feats and close the gap between the ‘true’ 100m power sprinters and us.

    People still do not see the co-relations between a good 100m timing and a good 400m timing. Actually they are all related. If you have a good sprinting mechanism with a combination of powerful strides at appropriate fast frequency, you will tend to feel ‘lighter’ when running the 400m. By carrying out the shorter speed endurance and other speed work, you will improve your anaerobic system. This will enable you to cover greater distance in the 400m before your anaerobic system becomes ‘fatigued’.

  5. What’s your training like .. tell us an insight of your normal daily routine

    Honestly, back in JC, I only put in 3 training sessions a week inclusive of an on-off gym workout. Though I didn’t put on strength (when I should have!), I still managed to do my personal bests for the 400m and 400mH and most importantly preserved my body for tougher workouts later by not getting injured. Now in NS, I am more committed to my trainings and my weekly schedule involves 2-3 gym workouts, 3 speed workouts and 1-2 specific/speed endurance workouts. As I usually combine gym and speed workouts together, I usually train about 5-6 days a week.

  6. Tell us about some of your experiences and role models along the way

    Apart from a very ‘shocking’ experience at the last SEA Games in Vietnam, where I realized how dominant our neighbours are in Track & Field, I’m still relatively ‘raw’ in the track scene. I still have (hopefully) several years of productive trainings ahead of me and hope to come out of it a better person both physically and psychologically.

    Several athletes have come and gone in our local track scene but one athlete I admired the most is Timothy Yeo, who is an ex-Josephine, and my track coach then always used to inspire us by stories of his talent in both the 200m and 400m. He was the closest all-rounded sprinter in the 90s. And it is really sad that Singapore has lost a talented young man. Sigh .. Never mind, they always have me! Haha Kidding lah

  7. Who are your favorite athletes?

    Currently, my favourite local athletes are definitely those I train with – Koon Kiat, Kenneth Khoo, Alex Teng, Alfred, Sha, Asmah, Gary Yeo, Phang Xiaofeng, Yaopeng etc., as they have to constantly tolerate my ‘crap’ during trainings.

    On a more serious note, UK Shyam is a great athlete. He is a very talented but humble athlete. He is a good role model to athletes like me to keep on pushing despite the odds that always keep piling against you.

    In the international scene, I’m beginning to idolize American Jeremy Warriner. He has finally given me hope that a tall and lanky (equivalent to lack of bulk) athlete can make a great 400m runner. Yay!

  8. You’re going to Princeton University soon, tell us how did this opportunity came about

    After my ‘A’ levels, which I apparently did ok, I applied for several overseas universities and scholarships. I was subsequently awarded the EDB Overseas scholarship. I always wanted to study in an IVY league college in US so I applied to Princeton, U Penn, Stanford and Berkeley. Lets say that I got lucky in my applications and I must have performed pretty well in my Alumni Interviews to receive a lot of ‘big’ envelopes (acceptance letters) from these renowned institutions. I was always in awe of Princeton, especially since the likes of Einstein and von Neumann plyed their knowledge there and the movie ‘Beautiful Mind’ simply motivated me to do well for my ‘A’ levels. However, I never imagined getting acceptance into Princeton, which accepts only 2-3 Singaporeans a year! Like I said, I just got lucky!

  9. Obviously Princeton is in the states, will you still pursue your athletics dreams?

    Princeton has a strong athletic program with a few US Olympic Team selection members in the sprints and jumps. As for the sprints, they have 6 sub-11s runners (a few of them have already broken our National record) and a lot of 47/48s 400m runners. So it is going to be a difficult transition. I’ll be having a few Shyams, Kunalans and Seng Songs training with me day in, day out. I’m prepared to get trashed but I know that the experience will be invaluable and I am sure I can improve significantly there. Like I tell my training partners, if I qualify for my college’s 100m final, I would probably have qualified for SEA Games!

  10. What are you looking forward to right now? Your long-term dream/goal?

    Like I said, qualify for my college’s 100m and 400m finals! Hehe. Just Kidding. My short-term plans are to strengthen my upper body and get my running mechanisms right (something which should have been done in Sec Sch but it is never too late) and enter college with a good foundation in my shorter sprints.

    My long-term target is to have a medal-winning prospect at the 2007 SEA Games. And hopefully one day I can be able to break a National Record. I’m dreaming again!

  11. Do you have faith in the local athletics scene … what do you think need changing?

    I do not wish to give a definite answer to this question, as it does not matter whether you have faith in the association, with the coaches or their training methodologies. What matters is do you have faith in yourself? And I definitely do. And this faith will carry me far.

    We can’t always blame external factors (e.g. association, coaches, training methods, climate, etc.) for our lack of success in T&F even at the regional stage. Ultimately it is we who are going to run, jump or throw. Not them. We have to feel the pinch and close the widening gap between our neighbours and us and slowly we will all have faith in the local athletics scene.

    However, there is something annoying in our T&F system. That is the lack of meritocracy in team selection especially for the relays. I believe this topic has been re-visited several times before but we can only ‘have faith in our local athletic scene’ if the best 4 run the relays.

Thank you Shafiq for participating in this interview!


Posted by Uncle Sha.
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