By Romaine Soh/Red Sports
One of the most anticipated national schools championships is just around the corner.
Some of the fittest student-athletes from all across the nation will convene on Wednesday, March 27 at the National Schools Cross Country Championships, where they will match their endurance, speed and wits against each other. This year’s competition will be held at Bedok Reservoir, with the first race flagging off at 9 a.m.
With just days to go before the championships, let us take a look at the potential title contenders, and potential clashes.
A Division Boys (4.3 km) — Raffles again?
With the top B Division boys from last year moving up the A Division, it looks to be an exciting race. Reigning A Division champion, Karthic Harish Ragupathy of Hwa Chong Institution, has history on his side, as he has won the C and B Divisions before. In the latest Wings meet, Karthic finished 23 seconds clear of his closest competitor, an eternity in cross country racing.
Long-term rivals Heng Yu Jie and Marcus Ng, representing Raffles Institution and Victoria Junior College respectively, will be pitted against each other for the fifth year running. Yu Jie’s signature finishing kick has given him an advantage over Marcus so far, except for 2010 when Marcus was crowned the C Division champion.
Bryan Yong of Raffles is another strong contender for the crown. He has been ranked in the top six at almost every national championship he has taken part in. This being his last year in the school scene, he will have extra motivation to outdo himself and possibly lay his hands on an elusive gold medal.
This year’s competition for the team medal looks to be a fight between Raffles and Victoria. While Raffles’ top four do indeed seem to be in a class of their own, beating Victoria by 10 points at the Wings meet, Victoria still have a chance of upsetting them on competition day.
The quartet of Marcus, Justin Tan, Ryan Tan and Julian Tang will look to improve Victoria’s sixth placing last year. Seniors Justin and Ryan can use their experience to reduce the gap between Victoria and Raffles. Julian has shown massive improvement this season, moving up from 35th position in last year’s B Division to 11th among the A Division boys at the latest Wings meet. Perhaps Julian can capitalise on this aspect to cause tremors in the top ranks, and bring Victoria closer to the title.