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Smriti Menon, "The club has allowed me to become a part of the Singaporean sport community"

Written and compiled by Sha.

Smriti MenonName: Smriti Menon

Weight: 52kg

Height: 163cm

Date of Birth: 12/02/1998

School(s): Overseas Family School (OFS, for the past 11-years)

Coach(es): Mona Kunalan & Melvin Tan

Personal Best(s): 12.50s at 2014 SAA T&F Series 5

100m Progression:

    2015 - 12.73s (+0.0m/s) SAA Series 1, 17yrs old
    2014 - 12.50s (1.6m/s)  SAA Series 5, 16 years old             
    2013 - 13.15s (2.5m/s)  Singapore Youth & Junior Athletics, 15 years old
    2012 - 13.39s (0.3m/s) S'pore Jr. Athletics C'ship , 14 years old

3-years ago sprinter Smriti, Menon was passionate about soccer. A Chelsea fan and captain for her JSSL Arsenal (Junior Soccer School & League) soccer team locally, she was busy kicking about and was not even thinking of sprinting.

But after some nudging by Mona Kunalan who was then personal training Smriti’s mum, she joined Mona’s weekend athletics training at CCAB.

That in turn led to her being referred to Melvin Tan. The former national relay head coach then moulded the 17-year-old to become one of the Republic top women sprinter.

The aspiring veterinarian maiden foray into athletics started in 2009 recreationally and only registered her first race in the year 2012 representing Wings Athletic Club.

Based on 2014 SAA ranking  for the 100 metres women, Smriti was ranked fourth fastest at 12.50 seconds (1.6m/s) behind national women sprinters such as Shanti Veronica Pereira (#1 - 11.79s), Dipna Lim-Prasad (#2 - 12.12s) and Wendy Enn (#3 – 12.45s).

The 1.63 metres tall Menon road to success was not by mere luck or chance but of hard work.

She only started to train seriously in 2012. Her rankings for the women 100m event rose through the years, 27th in 2012 (13.39s), ranked 21st in 2013 (13.15s) and 4th last year (12.50s).

Her fast times are a culmination of hours of training over the years, and held steadfast to the ascetic beliefs of discipline and dedication.

That belief led her to two silvers medals at last year’s Singapore National Games and U23 Championship, and one gold medal from Singapore Youth & Junior Athletics Championships.

Smriti, Menon persistence and results was acknowledged and recognised by Singapore Athletic Association who nominated her to SNOC for the SEA Games squad under the women 4x100 metres relay team category, and she was successfully included in the provisional team.

Now as the SEA Games draws near, Smriti is honing her sprinting skills and training hard to ensure she is good enough to make the final 4x100m women squad for the biennial games.

Below is an extract of an interview with Smriti.

    Q) How did you get you started in athletics?

    Smriti) I was always keen on sports and running and right from the start I felt like athletics is what I could excel in and under the guidance of Mona, I began training for athletics in 2009. Mona used to be my mum's personal trainer and that's how we found out that Mona used to coach every Sunday at CCAB, so I decided to start training under her. After a few year of training with Mona, she suggested that I start training for athletics more seriously, and so she recommended me to Melvin Tan.

    Smriti Menon
    Smriti training under the watchful eyes of coach Melvin Tan.

    Q) How has your current coach, Melvin Tan has helped to develop you?

    Smriti) Mr. Tan has been instrumental in helping me understand my potential and has significantly enhanced my techniques, speed and strength. More importantly he has also taught me self-discipline, perseverance and self-confidence, for which I will always be in debt to him.

    Q) How has Wings Athletic club helped or assist in your athletics journey so far?

    Smriti) Wings Athletics Club has significantly supported me in my athletics journey. Through the club I have taken part in various competitions. I've met many other athletes through the club, who are all very inspiring to me. The club has allowed me to become a part of the Singaporean sport community.

    Q) Who do you look up to when you started on your maiden journey into athletics? Did anyone inspire you to start this athletics pursuit?

    Smriti) I don't exactly have an idol that I look up to, but in general many athletes have inspired me. Their sheer dedication motivates me to put in my 100% in athletics.

    Smriti winning the S'pore Youth & Jr C'ships last year with a timing of 13.29s

    Q) As for your family, how's the support level from them? How important do you think is family support?

    Smriti) My family is extremely supportive of my athletic pursuit. Right from dropping and picking me up from the mrt stations before and after trainings, to coming to all my competitions and always encouraging me. My extended family has also been very supportive of me and their words of encouragement, drives me to do even better in each competition. 

    Q) Why did you choose 100m to specialize? Why not the 400m or 800m event?

    Smriti) The process of running a 100m dash intrigues me as so much mechanics is involved, in a 12 seconds race. I've also been running the 100m ever since I started athletics, so I'm most comfortable with it. Regarding the 400m and 800m, I am not sure if my endurance levels will allow me to compete at the top levels for these distances. 

    Q) Did you have any injury plaguing you before or currently?

    Smriti) I've never had a serious injury, only those minor injuries from playing football.

    Q) Do you take care of your nutrition? Your opinion on supplements and food.

    Smriti) My mum ensures that I eat the right kind of food, and that I get sufficient amount of nutrition. I also take USANA's multi-minerals. As an athlete, it is very important that I get the sufficient amount of nutrition because when you're training very hard, your body's immune system may get weaker, so to prevent falling ill often, I must have a good supply of nutrition.

    Smriti Menon
    Smriti is currently in the provisional SEA Games team for the women 4x100m relay team.

    Q) Aside from athletics, what else interest you? You could say the other part of your life beyond sprinting.

    Smriti) Well, apart from athletics I've been learning Indian Classical Dance (Bharatanatyam) for many years, which I hope to continue in the near future. I also enjoy football, and I'm currently an assistant coach in my previous football club (JSSL Arsenal). I hope to be veterinarian because I love animals, and I hope to work in an organization like WWF.

    Q) Sounds like your other passion is football, tell us more.

    Smriti) I used to support Chelsea but recently I've found that I'm too tired to stay up for the matches and I haven't been up to date with football updates. JSSL stands for Junior Soccer School & League. Under JSSL Arsenal girls' team, I've participated in many local tournaments held by JSSL themselves, and the Singacup. I was a defender, centre-back to be precise. I was also fortunate as I had the opportunity to be the captain of my team. I've also been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to play overseas in Bangkok and Phuket. Last year I played in Sweden in the Gothia Youth World Cup and it was an amazing experience.

    Q) How do you juggle studies and training at the same time? How do you find the balance?

    Smriti) It's quite hard at the moment, considering I'm in my 3rd year of high school and I'm currently doing the IB diploma programme. It basically means that I can't procrastinate at all. I usually come back home around 7.30pm from training so I give myself sometime to freshen up and eat, and then I get straight to my studies. I try to finish my work off as early as possible so that I can sleep early. I essentially need to set my priorities on a daily basis, and be disciplined about my time management. If it is important, I will always find time. 

    Smriti Menon
    Joining Wings Athletic Club has allowed Smriti to make new found friends, fast & fit ones!

    Q) Share with the readers, some aspects of your training.

    I usually train 4-5 times a week. One day of the week is dedicated to strength, another to speed (pulling the sled + blocks), then to endurance, and then to speed endurance/core. We are still working on the details of the plan of my yearlong training.

    Q) What are your upcoming athletics goals?

    Smriti) At the moment, my goal is to reach a timing of 12.5s (This interview was done prior to Smriti 12.50s run at 2014 SAA Series 5). I want to qualify for the 2015 SEA games, and represent Singapore in the relays team. I would also like to represent Singapore in the 2015  IAAF World Youth Championships next year which is happening in Colombia. For that, I need to hit a timing of 12.3s, so I will also work towards reaching that. 

    Q) Athletes like you make a lot of sacrifices. Would you like to share with the readers some of them?

    Smriti) I think one of my significant sacrifices has been football. I played football for 5 years, but this June I stopped playing football when I realized that I can no longer train for both and I have to solely focus on athletics. 

    Q) Does Bharatanatyam practice these days take a backseat in your quest to qualify for the SEA Games and IAAF World Youth C'ships?

    Smriti) At the moment athletics is my priority and hence I train much more for it than bharatanatyam. I practice bharatanatyam once a week with my teacher, and in my spare time I try to practice as well. Although I ensure that I do not exert myself, and that I have enough time to spend with my family.

    Q) After high school, what's next?

    Smriti) After high school, I plan to study veterinary medicine in Melbourne University. I really want to go to Melbourne University because it is known for its veterinary course and it has an Athletics Club which has produced many Australian Olympic, Commonwealth, and World Championships medalists. I'd also prefer to go to Australia because it is closer to home than the States or U.K.

Article last updated and correct as of 16th Feb 2015.

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