Story by Iman Hashim/Red Sports. Photos by Cheah Wenqi and Jerald Ang/Red Sports.
Bishan Stadium, Friday, April 21, 2017 — Mohamed Zulkhairi Putera of Singapore Sports School (SSP) powered home to gold in the B Division boys’ 800 metres at the 58th National Schools Track and Field Championships, stopping the clock at 2 minutes 1.51 seconds.
Zulkhairi improved on his personal best of 2:02.12, clocked last month at the Singapore U18/U20 Athletics Championships.
“At first I felt tired,” the Secondary Four student said. “Because it was raining (causing a delay), I was having a negative mindset at first. But my coach talked to me and urged me to have a positive mindset, and plan my race properly. So I started to plan my race, and thankfully it went well.”
Teammate Brandon Norton, the C Division champion last year, ran 2:03.24 to make it a 1-2 finish for SSP. The two boys had also finished first and second respectively when they ran in the C Division two years ago.
Tay Kai Bin of North Vista Secondary completed the podium this time in third, clocking 2:04.89.
Zulkhairi acknowledged his friendly rivalry with teammate Brandon, who is a year younger.
“To be honest, (Brandon) is really good,” he said. “Like if I were to compare myself with him, I think he’s better than me. During training he pushes me and everything, so it’s a really good competition.”
This is Zulkhairi’s second 800m gold in the annual national schools championships, adding to his C Division victory in 2015. In the B Division final last year, he was second in 2:04.29, finishing behind a certain Thiruben Thana Rajan of National Junior College. The latter had just set a new electronically-timed championship record for the A Division boys’ 800m.
Zulkhairi said he hopes to break the two-minute barrier soon, hopefully by the Thailand Sports School Games next month.
For now, his attention turns to the B Division boys’ 1500m final, happening on April 28 at the National Stadium.
B Division Boys 800m – Top 8
1st Mohamed Zulkhairi Putera (#132, Singapore Sports School) – 2:01.51
2nd Brandon Norton (#120, Singapore Sports School) – 2:03.24
3rd Tay Kai Bin (#108, North Vista Secondary) – 2:04.89
4th Chua Jia Wei (#528, Hwa Chong Institution) – 2:05.83
5th Nedunchezian Selvageethan (#275, Raffles Institution) – 2:06.85
6th Brian Tong (#26, Catholic High School) – 2:07.47
7th Ethan Tan (#551, Hwa Chong Institution) – 2:07.68
8th Jonathan Andrew (#99, North Vista Secondary) – 2:08.27
More photos next page