Soh Rui Yong achieves rare A Division double as six Raffles Institution boys finish in the top eight


Story by REDintern Colin Tung. Pictures by Vanessa Lim, Marvin Lowe and Les Tan.


Rui Yong crosses the finish line ahead of team-mate and runner-up Lim Zhiming (#2058). (Photo 1 © Les Tan/Red Sports)

Temasek Polytechnic Stadium, Wednesday, March 25, 2009 – Soh Rui Yong of Raffles Institution won the A Division individual cross-country title for the second consecutive year as the Raffles boys filled six of the top eight positions in a masterful 1-2-4-5-7-8 finish to claim the team title.

Running the 4.6km route around Bedok Reservoir and ending at the Temasek Polytechnic track, Soh triumphantly crossed the finished line in a time of 15 minutes 20.86 seconds. Team-mate Lim Zhi Ming, who finished second at the recent Singapore Biathlon behind Mok Ying Ren, trailed him in a time of 15:21.90. Lee Ming Hui of Victoria Junior College prevented a Raffles Institution sweep of the podium by coming in third in a time of 15:34.92.

Soh arose on Wednesday morning with the tag of defending A Division cross-country champion and was seeking to join an exclusive club of double cross-country champions at A Division level.

Admittedly, he was nervous on the night before the race and “only slept four hours.”

Despite being a cross-country and 5000m champion in 2008 at the National Schools Championships, this race was different from the rest.

“It’s the first time I am going into a race as the favourite,” said Rui Yong after the race. “I have run most races recently with Mok (at the SAA National Cross-Country Championships and Wings Cross-Country Championships) or others (such as the Gurkhas in the 10 km event at Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon) who would lead the pace. This time, I had to be the one leading the pace and running from the front.”

The Raffles Institution team can also be proud of the commanding manner of their win. Their team score of twelve points is only two points above the lowest possible of ten. Even if their fifth and sixth runners’ scores were added to their total team score, Raffles Institution would still have won with 27 points. Victoria Junior College had 33 points from their top-four runners.

When asked about how he felt about his team’s win, Raffles Institution captain Su Yen Bing, in a struggle for words, said that he was “very happy.”

When probed about the secret to their flourishing success, Su added: “We trained very hard, controlled our diets and were very focused and determined. We also struck a balance between studies and running.”

While the A Division boys’ race saw a display in strength and depth of the Raffles Institution team, the B Division boys’ race proved just as exciting with a photo finish and an upset.

Ruben Galen Demetrius of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary, after leading for most parts of the race, was caught unaware by Sumanthiran Selvarajoo of St. Joseph’s Institution in the last few metres of the race and lost the individual championship title by a hair’s breadth. Only six thousandths of a second separated the winner Selvarajoo in a time of 15:43.85 from runner-up Demetrius in a time of 15:43.91. Rodrigo Eugene Cyril of Victoria School was third in 15:49.92.

Sumanthiran Selvarajoo, who was the 2007 C Division boys’ champion, was evidently happy with the result.

“I trained for four years for this. I didn’t want to waste any of it.”

On the flipside, Ruben Demetrius displayed obvious disappointment at coming so close to winning.

“I didn’t know he was coming. I only pushed when I realised him closing down on me.”

Demetrius gave an indication of the mistake he made when he said that he thought he “won the race already” though he knew Selvarajoo’s “finishing kick is very strong.”

The surprise of the B Division boys race came when Zachary Devaraj of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) tripped up near the end of the race before the bridge that took them into the Temasek Polytechnic grounds.

“I was in second place, just overtaking the first guy (at the time) – Ruben Demetrius of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary – when I tripped and stumbled,” said Zachary. “It disrupted my momentum and I just couldn’t recover.”

Zachary Devaraj had been one of the favourites to win in the B Division with his victories in the last month at the Wings Cross-Country Championships and the Akira-Swift Cross-Country Championships.

Naturally, he was disappointed but conveyed a sense of optimism saying “there’s next year.” Zachary is 15 and in Secondary Three this year.

With the A and B Divisions, there is always a heightened sense of competitiveness amongst the runners. With the C division runners though, there is a greater sense of unadulterated fun and free-spiritedness.

The top-two runners in the C Division, Karthic Ragupathy of St. Joseph’s Institution and Venuraam Selvan of Victoria School who finished first and second respectively, both shared that they are first-timers in the National Inter-School Cross-Country scene. Karthic and Venuraam finished in times of 16:30.24 and 16:30.80 respectively. The top-three finished less than a second apart as Heng Yu Jie of Catholic High School completed the trio in a time of 16:30.99.

The winner, Karthic, showed his youthful exuberance as he eloquently articulated the feelings that went through him as he approached the home-straight down the finish line.

“I had wanted to stop before the track but a creature inside of me erupted and told me to go for it – for the medal and beat the Victoria School guy. I didn’t expect myself to win. It is a surprise. My parents are also very proud of me,” he said.

In finishing second, Venuraam Selvan said that he was “overjoyed.”

LTC Fred Cheong, guest-of-honour at the event and a wing commander at the Officer Cadet School (OCS) also could not help but let on that the “vibrant sound of youth” that he heard “reminded [him]of [his]youth.”

Note: This story only covers the boys’ races. Read the other stories for the report on the girls’ races and summary of the team results.

Related Stories

Raffles Institution sweeps boys’ and girls’ titles at National Inter-School Cross-Country Championships

Clara Wong in surprise victory over Mok Ying Rong at schools’ cross-country championships

Boys’ Individual Results (top-twenty only)

A Division
1. Soh Rui Yong Raffles Institution 15:20.86
2. Lim Zhi Ming Raffles Institution 15:21.90
3. Lee Ming Hui Victoria Junior College 15:34.92
4. Soh Hua Qun Raffles Institution 15:38.80
5. Su Yen Bing Raffles Institution 15:39.47
6. Lian Wei Cong Victoria Junior College 15:42.72
7. Tay You Wei Adriel Raffles Institution 15:46.80
8. Goh Di Yao Kevin Raffles Institution 15:48.33
9. Tse Rong Gary Hwa Chong Institution (College) 16:10.37
10. Saripalli Kundan Reddy Victoria Junior College 16:14.06
11. Zorndrix Dass Anglo-Chinese Junior College 16:14.61
12. Lim Zhi Zhe Garry Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) 16:24.04
13. Choo Shi Jun Hwa Chong Institution 16:25.35
14. Marcus Tan Yi Shuan Victoria Junior College 16:26.45
15. Tan Ke Rong Anglo-Chinese Junior College 16:31.32
16. Tan Yi Wen Victoria Junior College 16:34.80
17. Azman Bin Aziz Catholic Junior College 16:35.68
18. Banjamin Quek Wei Jian Victoria Junior College 16:35.76
19. Kumaran S/O Kalaiselvan Boon Lay Secondary 16:53.31
20. K. Sarravanan Anglo-Chinese Junior College 16:54.20

B Division
1. Sumanthiran S/O Selvarajoo St. Joseph’s Institution 15:43.85
2. Ruben Galen Demetrius Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary 15:43.91
3. Rodrigo Eugene Cyril Victoria School 15:49.92
4. Prakash S/O Arasu Singapore Sports School 16:01.80
5. Leong Jia Juin Benjamin Raffles Institution 16:03.90
6. Jeevaneesh S/O Soundararajah Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary 16:10.61
7. Sherwin Yeo Jun Kang Catholic High School 16:16.37
8. Leo Geoffrey Westerhout Victoria School 16:17.34
9. Teng Jian Hong Commonwealth Secondary School 16:20.29
10. Koh Yi Thong River Valley High 16:20.34
11. Wan Azhar Bin Wan Iskandar Chai Chee Secondary 16:25.78
12. Roy Chiang Weihao Catholic High School 16:29.16
13. Loh Zhen Yao, Gavin Catholic High School 16:30.16
14. T. Haarishankar Singapore Sports School 16:33.95
15. Hieng Pheak Kdey Victoria School 16:35.68
16. Jonathan Teo Zhao Wen Catholic High School 16:36.20
17. Yeo Siheng Hwa Chong Institution 16:38.40
18. Faiz Anis Bin Mohamad Commonwealth Secondary 16:38.58
19. Sean Lim Yi Fang Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) 16:41.36
20. Seow Yeong Yang Raffles Institution 16:43.27

C Division
1. Karthic Harish Ragupathy St. Joseph’s Institution 16:30.24
2. Venuraam S/O Selvan Victoria School 16:30.80
3. Heng Yu Jie Catholic High School 16:30.99
4. Yong Ren Wei Bryan Victoria School 16:39.23
5. Marcus Ng Yu Pei Victoria School 16:3940
6. Marc Amiruddin Singapore Sports School 16:40.27
7. Tan Hoe En Jonathan Raffles Institution 17:07.02
8. Muhammad Sadiq Boon Lay Secondary 17:12.95
9. Josiah Wee Singapore Sports School 17:19.61
10. Thitikorn Ngampakdeepan Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) 17:22.62
11. Wee Cheng Hao, Ryan Catholic High School 17:33.09
12. Dubey Kissan Kumar Singapore Sports School 17:33.77
13. Gregory Teo Yi Rong Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) 17:44.34
14. Vikneswaran S/O Thayalam Changkat Changi Secondary 17:57.09
15. Muhd Shahizam Bin Rasid Pierce Secondary 18:00.07
16. M. Asraf Bin Atan Ngee Ann Secondary 18:04.45
17. Lim Xianda Victoria School 18:04.83
18. Goy Shen Catholic High School 18:06.88
19. James Asikin Cheung Catholic High School 18:09.16
20. Ng Jun Wah Catholic High School 18:17.88

National Cross Country Championship

The C Division boys raring to go. (Photo 2 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

National Cross Country Championship

The B division boys shoving and establishing their own space in the pack. (Photo 3 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

National Cross Country Championship

The A Division boys and Soh Rui Yong (#2053 in green) off to a flying start. Third-placer Lee Ming Hui (#2009 in yellow) was the only non-RI runner in the top five. Runner-up Lim Zhi Ming is between the two of them. (Photo 4 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)


Bryan Yong of Victoria School finished 2nd in his team and 4th overall to help the team to the C Division title. (Photo 5 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


Jonathan Tan of Raffles Institution finished 7th amongst the C Division boys. (Photo 6 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


Lim Xianda completed the scoring quartet for Victoria School in 17th position as the team wins the C Division title with 28 points. (Photo 7 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


From left to right – Hieng Pheak Kdey (#2318) of Victoria School placed 15th, Yeo Siheng (#2330) of Hwa Chong Institution placed 17th and Tham Hao Rong (#2580) of Jurong Secondary School placed 25th. (Photo 8 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


The B Division boys battle for positions along the trail around Bedok Reservoir in sunny and at times windless conditions. Darren Ang (#2500) of Catholic High School eventually placed 23rd. (Photo 9 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


The lead break-away pack of B Division boys consisting of (from left) eventual winner Sumanthiran Selvarajoo (#2303) of SJI, 4th placer Prakash S/O Arasu (#2353) of Singapore Sports School, initial race favourite Zachary Devaraj (#2407) of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), runner-up Ruben Galen Demetrius (#2695) of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary and his team-mate Jeevaneesh S/O Soundararajah (#2698) who finished 6th. (Photo 10 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)

National Cross Country Championship

A runner looking back to see who is catching up with him as the runners cross the bridge that would take them into the Temasek Polytechnic compound. (Photo 11 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

National Cross Country Championship

Hwa Chong supporters cheering one of their own as he approaches the track. (Photo 12 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)


The breakfast of champions: Hamburger-Hills, just like a Saturday morning at MacRitchie Reservoir – Soh Rui Yong on his way to his second individual title as he leaves team-mate Lim Zhi Ming (#2058) and a chase-pack consisting of mostly Victoria Junior College and Raffles Institution runners trailing in his wake on the way up the only hill on the course. (Photo 13 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


C boys champion Karthic Ragupathy of St. Joseph’s Institution looks over his shoulder at his pursuers – runner-up Venuraam Selvan of Victoria School (left) and Heng Yu Jie of Catholic High School (middle). (Photo 14 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Bryan Yong of Victoria School raises his hands in celebration at finishing 4th. On the left of the picture is pre-race favourite Marc Amiruddin of the Sports School who finished 6th. (Photo 15 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Sumanthiran Selvarajoo (#2303) makes the surge down the home-straight that saw him pip Ruben Demetrius of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian (#2695) at the line. (Photo 16 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Sumanthiran Selvarajoo. (Photo 17 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Rodrigo Eugene Cyril of Victoria School finished 3rd. (Photo 18 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Prakash S/O Arasu of the Sports School finished in 4th place. (Photo 19 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Sherwin Yeo (#2497) of the Catholic High School beat Leo Geoffrey Westerhout of Victoria School (#2319) to 7th position. (Photo 20 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


T. Haarishankar of the Singapore Sports School, last year’s C Boys’ champion, finished 14th in his first B division outing. Nevertheless, he gave us a look at his interesting fashion style, sporting a sweat-band. (Photo 21 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Yeo Siheng (#2330) of the Hwa Chong Institution fights the exhaustion and heat. (Photo 22 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Zachary Devaraj of the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) rues what could have been after the race. (Photo 23 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Lim Zhi Ming of the Raffles Institution – A boys’ runner-up. (Photo 24 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Soh Hua Qun of the Raffles Institution – A boys’ 4th-finisher and 3rd of the Raffles Institution boys. (Photo 25 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Captain Su Yen Bing of the Raffles Institution – A boys’ 5th-finisher and 4th of the Raffles Institution boys. (Photo 26 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Only two of the top-eight were not from Raffles Institution and they were both from Victoria Junior College. Here is the second of the two, Lian Wei Cong, who finished in 6th place. (Photo 27 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


Saripalli Reddy (#2011) of Victoria Junior College rounds up the A boys top-ten while Zorndrix Dass of Anglo-Chinese Junior College narrowly misses out. (Photo 28 © Les Tan/Red Sports)


The vociferous Victoria School support was enduring and passionate as they were the only group who opted to stand away from the shelter of the grandstand to cheer on their runners on the field right by the track and finishing line. (Photo 29 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


A Victoria School supporter raises his hands in jubilation as it is announced that their C Division team has won the team title. (Photo 30 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


The victorious Raffles Institution boys celebrate their A Division team title and individual medals. (Photo 31 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)


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Discussion14 Comments

  1. Pingback: “I held the lead past the 500m mark. I didn’t have a clue as to what to do next. I was just winging it.” – Soh Rui Yong | Red Sports

  2. Pingback: “You fail more often than you win, but you have to keep going to achieve your goal” — Karthic of HCI – Red Sports. Always Game.

  3. hey colin, nahh im not a runner. my 2.4 timing would probably be slower than what these students can do for cross country. i’m just a follower of cross country and track, thats abt it.

  4. colt

    That’s very diligent of you Erwin. Sighh… It would have been nice to have access to the records of past champions. Still waiting for the national convener for cross country to get back to me. I actually remember successfully googling for it a few years back but can’t find it now.

    Anyway just curious, you a runner yourself or a keen cross-country/athletics observer?

  5. hi colin and uncle les,

    i get the results from the MOE/CCAB website every year since 2000 onwards, and print them out to keep.

    colin i think i have a list of individual cross country champions from all the back since 1981, but sadly it’s in my crashed PC.

  6. That’s a really gd point Colin..I think it also explains why it’s much harder for B/C div teams to achieve such low scores with so many schools taking part.

    Mr Quek has programs of almost every XC, if you’re interested in getting champion teams/indiv champs, i think they’re printed on the back of the programs.. I’m sure he’ll be happy to help you out, just have to catch him when he’s not too busy!

  7. Colin, I have to agree with you on the intensity of competition among the 87/88 boys. As you mentioned, there were several outstanding runners – mostly from different schools – and it would have been hard for any one school to dominate like RI this year.

    Having said that, it was still a job well done by the Raffles team and I’m glad they were able to pip my 2005 team’s 1-3-5-7 finish.

    On a different note, I wonder how the middle distance runners who were involved in the cross country season are going to be able to peak in time for the track & field nationals in a little more than 2 weeks. Cross country racing and middle distance track (like the 800m and 1500m) are very different and we had months in between to prepare for track racing when we were in school. It certainly is going to make it that much harder to break the already longstanding middle distance national schools records.

  8. colt

    wow thanks Erwin. Where did you get access to these stats? I’m still waiting for SSSC to get back to me for the records of the past individual champions down the years =S.

  9. here’s something for the statto lovers: 4 in the top 10 over the past 10 national schools cross country meets:

    2009 A Boys RJC 1,2,4,5,7,8
    2008 A Boys RJC 1,5,6,10
    2008 C Boys SSP 1,4,7,8
    2008 A Girls HCI 2,3,4,6
    2007 A Boys HCI 2,7,9,10
    2007 A Girls VJC 2,3,5,7,10
    2006 A Boys ACJC 4,6,7,10
    2006 B Girls SSP 1,2,3,4,5
    2005 A Boys RJC 1,3,5,7
    2004 A Boys RJC 3,4,5,7
    2004 B Boys ACSI 1,5,7,8
    2004 C Boys VS 2,7,8,9
    2003 C Girls SNG 2,6,7,8
    2003 A Boys ACJC 1,7,8,9
    2003 B Boys CHS 1,5,7,9,10
    2003 C Boys VS 1,2,4,7
    2002 C Boys CHS 1,2,6,8,9,10
    2001 A Boys VJC 6,7,9,10

  10. colt

    Hey Renuka! Sorry for the less-than-prompt reply. Haha it’s my pleasure to give the news to people like you who can’t be there man. Haha. Really shows what this event means to people who have taken part in it before such that you, being miles away in Australia, can be so anxious about it. Lol.

    Anyway, in saying what I am going to say in the next few lines, anyone who may disagree with me, please understand this is a personal view – Such domination wouldn’t have happened with the 87/88 batch of runners man! Haha it was too competitive.

    I must remind you in 2005, ACJC was close behind RJC with a 2-4-8-12 ourselves. And ACJC won with 4-6-7-10 in 2006! Those were years with several outstanding individual runners namely Mok Ying Ren, Darshananth, Ee Ghim, Jeffery Ng, etc…

    Having said that, nothing is to be taken away from Raffles Institution’s feat this year =). Heh. It certainly is admirable.

  11. (: haha they did, hey? I think it was 2005 they got 1,3,5,7th place and we thought that was impressive, but this is a whole new level of owning.. It’s all really due to the efforts of them and the coach and teacher i/c really. As Mr Quek would say, they got “all the small things right”, and put in the work for the whole year/2 years.

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