Story by Iman Hashim/Red Sports. Photos by Jerald Ang and Chua Kai Yun/Red Sports
Bedok Reservoir Park, Wednesday, March 23, 2016 — Syed Hussein Aljunied of Pasir Ris Secondary clinched the B Division boys individual gold medal at the National Schools Cross Country Championships, finishing the 4.6 kilometres race in 16 minutes 1.66 seconds.
His timing set a new course record, and he was the fastest boy across the A and B Divisions.
His time was almost 14 seconds faster than the 16:15.07 that Isaac Tan of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) clocked to win the A Division race. The boys in the C Division ran a shorter distance of 3.65km.
Earlier this season, Hussein had also emerged first in his category in both the Singapore Athletics Cross Country and Wings Cross Country championships. For last year’s National Schools race, he did not finish as he was pushed midway, so the scintillating form that he has shown this year is redemption for him.
This was his first ever individual win in a National Schools cross country race.
Hussein led this race from start to end as he finished almost 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Ruben s/o Loganathan (16:11.26) of Guangyang Secondary. The front pack started out at a reasonable pace, and as they reached the hilly portion of the route, Hussein began to open up his lead.
Ruben then started inching closer again when they approached the turning point of the route, closing the gap to only five metres at the curve.
Alas, in the second half of the race, Ruben began to tire slowly as Hussein took the opportunity to quicken his pace and pull away, and then kicked towards the finishing line.
Hussein, a Secondary Four student, was the only representative from Pasir Ris Secondary and trains individually under Mr Ghana Segaran, who is the Chairman of Cross Country and Road Running at Singapore Athletics, and also the national coach for middle and long distance running.
When asked how it feels to be the only runner from his school, Hussein said that it could get lonely sometimes but said that it could be more of a boon than a bane.
“It is very lonely during trainings, but then sometimes it also helps me during my races with the fact that I don’t depend on others – so I can run independently and run at the front,” he said.
“I want to thank my parents, my coach and also my school teachers, especially my teacher-in-charge Mr Ow Kok Meng – he’s the one who let me run all these races.”
Hussein has big goals for the upcoming National Inter-School Track and Field Championships in April – to clinch the gold medal in both the 1500m and 3000m events, and also break the championship record for the latter event. The current championship mark of 9:21.26 for the B Division Boys 3000m has stood for 13 years.
The last boys’ B division runner to complete this exact treble of titles was Heng Yu Jie, then of Catholic High School, in 2012.
Meanwhile, it was not all gloom for Ruben, as his second-place finish greatly helped Guangyang Secondary clinch the B Division Boys’ team title for an historic first time. Brian Ye (7th), Yogaraj Rajendran (17th) and Try Aprison (37th) made up the other three runners from Guangyang to first cross the finish line.
Guangyang pipped Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) to the title by five points.
Guangyang’s achievement is remarkable because since unfancied Bartley Secondary won the B Division team title in 1993, the championship has only gone to a handful of schools – Victoria School (13 titles), Raffles Institution (3), Catholic High (3), ACS(I) (2), and Chinese High School (1).
Bartley had then beat Victoria by a single point, scoring 72 points. Guangyang’s title this year was won with 64 points, the most since then. Points are calculated from the positions of each team’s first four runners.
On his personal and team’s performance, Ruben said, “I feel really great because this is the first time I have done this well. But it’s not only my effort, it’s my team’s effort as a whole, so I have to say well done to them too.”
The B Division boys trained under an external coach, Rameshon Murugiah.
Zorndrix Dass, one of the Guangyang cross country coaches, said, “I’m very happy, the boys did very well. We actually didn’t know what to expect before today. Bur for today’s race, all of them did better than expected, better than how they usually do.”
B Division Boys (Top 20)
1st Syed Hussein Aljunied (#3244, Pasir Ris) — 16:01.66
2nd Ruben S/O Loganathan (#3136, Guangyang) — 16:11.26
3rd Er Wen Han (#3156, Hwa Chong Institution) — 16:19.45
4th Yeo Zi Jian (#3189, Maris Stella High) — 16:47.30
5th Dave Tung Kin Pang (#3324, St Joseph’s Institution) — 16:52.12
6th Fang Yiyang (#3091, Commonwealth) — 16:54.70
7th Brian Ye Zhicheng (#3132, Guangyang) — 16:54.83
8th Joseph Hee Jia Liang (#3205, Nan Hua High) — 16:54.92
9th Chai Wen Bin (#3074, Catholic High) — 16:56.46
10th Armand Dhilawala Mohan (#3270, Raffles Institution) — 16:57.55
11th Austin Pua Jun How (#3321, St Joseph’s Institution) — 17:00.71
12th George Lai Ziqing (#3158, Hwa Chong Institution) — 17:11.42
13th Philip Wong Meng Ern (#3033, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)) — 17:17.76
14th Selvanther Sivarajan (#3255, Punggol) — 17:20.13
15th Tan Jen Ray (#3032, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)) — 17:25.23
16th Gabriel James Neo (#3350, Victoria School) — 17:25.54
17th Yogaraj K Rajendran (#3139, Guangyang) — 17:26.35
18th Timothy Liau Ke Qin (#3023, Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road)) — 17:27.86
19th Jonathan Low Yi Wei (#3028, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)) — 17:28.20
20th Chiew Le Wei (#3349, Victoria School) — 17:33.12
B Division Boys Team (Top 4)
1st Guangyang Secondary (63 points)
2nd Ruben S/O Loganathan (#3136) — 16:11.26
7th Brian Ye Zhicheng (#3132) — 16:54.83
17th Yogaraj K Rajendran (#3139) — 17:26.35
37th Try Aprison (#3137) — 17:59
2nd Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (68 points)
13th Philip Wong Meng Ern (#3033) — 17:17.76
15th Tan Jen Ray (#3032) — 17:25.23
19th Jonathan Low Yi Wei (#3028) — 17:28.20
21st Samuel Lim Song Yang (#3029) — 17:34
3rd Hwa Chong Institution (72 points)
3rd Er Wen Han (#3156) — 16:19.45
12th George Lai Ziqing (#3158) — 17:11.42
26th Sia Jun Wei (#3160) — 17:40
31st Chua Jia Wei (#3155) — 17:50
4th St Joseph’s Institution (97 points)
5th Dave Tung Kin Pang (#3324) — 16:52.12
11th Austin Pua Jun How (#3321) — 17:00.71
34th Kiranraj S/O Suresh (#3320) — 17:57
47th Jasper Ho Wei Zong (#3318) — 18:24
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