Ng Chin Hui (in white) glancing over at Thailand’s Nitipol Thongpoon (tag number 202) in the closing stages of the race. Chin Hui clocked a time of 47.92 seconds to beat Nitipol by 0.02 seconds and set a new national junior record in the process. (Photo 1 © Jervis Mun/courtesy of Foo Shu-Yi)
Bishan Stadium, Saturday, April 28, 2012 — Ng Chin Hui gained a measure of revenge over Thailand’s Nitipol Thongpoon when he won the Boys’ Under-21 400 metres final in record time at the seventh South-east Asian Youth Athletics Championships.
Nitipol clocked a time of 47.95 seconds at last year’s championships in Jakarta, Indonesia, to beat Chin Hui by two hundredths of a second, but this time, the Raffles Institution student blasted off the blocks to streak ahead of the six-person field, and looked to be on his way to winning the race comfortably.
Nitipol, running on Chin Hui’s left in lane three, closed the gap at the final bend, and was level with a fast-tiring Chin Hui with about 30 metres to go. The 18-year-old Singaporean managed to hold on and dipped just ahead of Nitipol to clock a personal best time of 47.92 seconds, beating the Thai by the same 0.02 second-margin which he lost by last June.
“Honestly I was pretty nervous before the race as I was going up against arch-rival Nitipol who pipped me to the line last year, and I knew that it’ll be a nail-biting race. And what’s more I was on the outside this time so the nerves sort of got to me a little bit,” said Chin Hui, on his thoughts before the race.
“I changed my tactics a little this time round, choosing to go out hard in the first 200m, which paid off well for me as I led from start to finish.
“I had a good start and managed to get into my rhythm, although I struggled a little during the last 30 meters or so. Overall (it was) a fantastic race!” said Chin Hui.
Pending ratification, it is a new National Under-23, Under-19, and Junior record. The Under-23 mark was 47.95 set by Muhammad Firdaus Bin Juhari in July 2005, while the Under-19 and Junior marks were Chin Hui’s previous personal best of 47.97 set at last year’s SEA Junior meet.
This race comes about three weeks after Chin Hui ran six races in as many days at the National Schools Championships, where he came in third in the 200m final and won the 400m gold medal in a time of 48.81 seconds.
According to Chin Hui, he did not expect to break his personal best and national junior record. He said: “The record was a bonus to me actually, because I was only focused on winning this time round. As I’m not in peak form, I didn’t set high expectations of myself in terms of my timings, so it was a pleasant surprise indeed!”
His latest personal best moves him ahead of Muhd Firdaus on Singapore’s all-time list. Only Godfrey Jalleh (47.60), R. Muthukumaran (47.76) and Kenneth Khoo (47.77) have run a faster electronically-timed race. The national record is hand-timed at 47.4 seconds and was set by Jalleh in 1974 and equalled by Haron Mundir in 1989.
Chin Hui will now look on to the two major junior meets of the year. He said: “It’ll be the Asian Juniors and World Juniors later this year. I’m hoping to finish on the podium at the Asian Juniors but it wouldn’t be easy going up against the powerhouses of Japan and China. Anything can happen so we’ll see how it goes!”
At the last Asian Junior Championships in Hanoi two years ago, the bronze medal-winning time was 47.85 seconds, while the gold was won by Iran’s Sajjad Hashemi in a time of 47.18 seconds.
1st Ng Chin Hui (Singapore) — 47.92 seconds
2nd Nitipol Thongpoon (Thailand) — 47.94
3rd Jakarin Pengprapai (Thailand) — 49.66
4th Seow Yeong Yang (Singapore) — 50.21
5th Mervin Guarte (Philippines) — 50.24
6th Zin Aung Kyaw (Myanmar) — 51.91
Video © SAA. Used with permission.
Ng Chin Hui celebrates his gold-medal win. (Photo 2 © Jervis Mun/courtesy of Foo Shu-Yi)