The 54th National Schools’ Track and Field Championships may have drawn to a close more than a month ago, but the adrenalin from participating in and witnessing arguably the premier athletics meet of the year would probably still be pulsating in many.
We are sure you would have heard of the many headliners of the meet: Chan Sheng Yao of Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and Lynette Lim of Cedar Girls’ Secondary breaking national records in the pole vault and triple jump respectively; a total of six championship records falling; a relative unknown in Muhd Jawhardeen of Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary becoming a household name after his dominant victories in the Boys’ A Division 100 and 200 metres; HCI’s 22-year reign as the boys’ B Division champions ended by Singapore Sports School.
But why stop there? Here are 25 nuggets of little-known trivia on this year’s Schools’ meet, which will surely impress even the resident ‘statto’ in your group of athletics or sports-crazed friends.
1. Ow Yeong Yu Xiang of Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) won the A boys’ 400 metres hurdles final in a time of 54.56 seconds. The time not only broke a 27-year-old championship record, but was faster than the winning time of the boys’ C Division flat 400m (54.91s).
The last time this occurred at the championships was in 1985, when Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied’s A Boys’ 400m hurdles winning time of 55.9s outstripped Fu Dunyang’s 57.7s result which won the latter the C Division 400m crown.
This year’s race was a fast one. An unprecedented seven runners ran under one minute, while the eighth-placed time of 60.62 seconds was the fastest such time ever.
2. Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) won the A Boys’ 4x400m relay final in a time of 3 minutes 23.68 seconds, having started the race from lane six. Of the last 10 finals in this event, the team starting in lane four – the fastest team in the heats – have won only once.
3. Benjamin Tang of HCI followed up his A Boys’ 800m win to take the 1,500m crown as well, with an impressive kick 200m from the finish to elude the Raffles Institution (RI) duo of Heng Yu Jie and Justin John Surin. Aside from that, the race was largely a slow, tactical affair of cat-and-mouse, and resulted in a winning time of 4:27.67 which was the slowest in the last 33 years.
4. Brian See of RI bagged both the A Boys’ discus and shot put titles, making it four on the trot in both disciplines. The longest win streak in either the discus or shot put in the last 26 years is five: Chua Wei Liang (Discus, 1994-98); Alan Teh (Discus, 2006-10); Chia Chiang Yi (Shot put 1999-2003).
Brian could be the first thrower in this span of time to win five straight gold medals in two different events if he repeats his double-win next year.
5. When Lemuel Low of HCI mounted the podium to receive his A Boys’ long jump bronze medal, he must have wondered what he had to do to just ascend a step or two. It was the fifth consecutive long jump bronze medal he had won.
Lemuel is the only athlete in the last 26 years with this consecutive streak in a single event. He shares the record for the most third-place finishes in one event in the last 26 years with Tan Zeyi, who won five discus bronzes in 1998 and from 2000 to 2003.
In six years of competing at the National Schools’ meet since his debut in 2008, Lemuel has won seven individual medals. No prizes for guessing the colour of the other two medals. (For the uninitiated, he won two more bronze medals in the triple jump.)
6. Ong Sin Yao of Chung Cheng High School (Main) won the B Boys’ 400m title to become the eighth winner in nine such finals to start the race in lane four. His winning time of 52.48s is the slowest since 1989, when Huang Yonggen registered a 52.8s.
7. Samuel Chin of RI cleared a height of 1.97m to win the B Boys’ high jump. He is tied for the fifth-best jump in the division. Samuel also finished first in the long jump and is the first long and high jump double winner in this division since 1990, when Xie Yulin, then of Jurong Secondary, achieved this feat. Yulin had also won the double a year before, in 1989.
8. Joel Ho and Dylan Huan, both from Singapore Sports School, won the C and B Boys’ pole vault competitions respectively. It is the first time since 2000 that Hwa Chong Institution (or then, The Chinese High School) did not win either of these titles in the same year.
In fact, it is the first time in 23 years that HCI/Chinese High have failed to win any of the gold medals offered in the pole vault and high jump in both the B and C Boys’ divisions. Between 1991 and 2012, the school won 60 of the 86 gold medals up for grabs in these events.
9. Despite knocking over four of the 10 hurdles, Joshua Chua of RI won the C Boys’ 100m hurdles final in 14.37s, the fastest time ever by a Secondary One boy. Linus Chong, then of Sports School, set the championship record of 13.81s in 2010.
10. Landdis Su achieved a rare feat in 2009 to medal in both individual running and throwing events. Sports School’s Kang Jun Jie could well be on his way to emulate it.
Jun Jie won a silver medal in the C Boys’ shot put (14.53m, seventh best distance ever), a bronze in the discus (46.78m, fourth best distance ever), and also anchored his team to the 4x100m relay silver medal in 45.87s, the seventh fastest time ever in the division and just six hundredths of a second behind eventual winner RI.
11. The C Boys’ 400m is one event that truly follows the form book. Sports School’s Mohd Irfan Qabeel’s win from lane four was the 14th time in 15 finals that the fastest qualifier from the semi-finals has gone on to win the final, the most in any single event across the six divisions over this period.
The exception was in 2000, when overwhelming favourite Phang Xiao Feng, then of St Joseph’s Institution, set an electronically-timed record in the semi-finals to be the top qualifier and thus started the final in lane four, but could only finish fourth.
12. RI’s Joshua Yap, aided by his fast start, swept to victory in the C Boys’ 100m in 11.83s. He is the first 100m runner across all six divisions to have won the final from lane two in at least 14 years.