Story by Iman Hashim/Red Sports. Additional reporting and photos by Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports
National Stadium, Thursday, April 12, 2018 — Considering their powerhouse tags, many would find it hard to believe that Raffles Institution (RI) and Nanyang Girls’ High School (NYGH) have had excruciatingly long waits since their last B Division title at the annual National Schools Track and Field Championships.
Though they have plenty A Division triumphs under their belt, RI have not attained the B Division crown in the past 27 years, while NYGH have not won since capturing back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999.
Both barren spells were finally ended at the 59th edition of the championships, as proceedings came to a close at the National Stadium on Thursday.
RI’s title challenge was spearheaded by a talented crop of throwers – Matthew Lee won shot put gold in a new meet record and discus silver, Kynaston Wee secured silver and fifth place in the shot put and javelin respectively, while Mervyn Lew obtained fourth places in the shot put and discus.
Victories in the 200 metres (Ishal Zikang), high jump (Jonathan Pua) and pole vault (Heng Jee Kuan) also helped RI’s cause, while other notable performers include hurdlers Matz Chan (double silver) and Jered Wong who earned fifth place and bronze in the 110m and 400m hurdle events respectively.
“The boys did very well – a lot of them did personal bests,” said Vincent Quek, the physical education head of department and teacher-in-charge of RI’s athletics team. “I would say most of them even exceeded much of our expectations. They worked very hard, along with the coaches’ guidance too.”
Prior to the final day, RI were leading serial championship winners Hwa Chong Institution by a precarious 11 points. Silver for HCI’s Bryan Lam and fourth place for RI’s Ishal in the 100m then cut the gap to just nine.
But with no HCI athlete in the 1500m final, cross country champion Chai Jiacheng put the result beyond doubt when he secured the gold for RI in 4 minutes 23.39 seconds – doubling the advantage to 18 points before the relays.
RI eventually finished with 149 points, 17 higher than HCI.
“We were second two years ago when the boys were in the C Division, so we managed to do much better this year ,” said Quek, who has worked in RI since 2005. “I think the coaches did a lot of good work, developing them from Year 1. Talent definitely needs hard work and consistency, and there’s been a strong development in our team (over the past few years).”
Similarly, the Nanyang girls only had a slender 12-point advantage over Cedar Girls’ Secondary before the final day of competition.
But there was never any doubt that they would bring the title home, with sprint terrors Bernice Liew and Elizabeth-Ann Tan expected to wreck the competition in the century sprint and relays.
A one-two finish by the duo in the 100m with a new meet record to boot, accompanied by Celeste Ang’s 1500m bronze and double gold in the relays, made sure NYGH ended the competition with a flattering 25-point margin over their nearest rivals.
Other significant contributions came from Hu Tianqi (high jump gold), Wu Shu Han (800m gold, 400m hurdles silver) Tiffany Yau (long jump gold, 100m hurdles silver), Valencia Ho (100m hurdles gold, long jump bronze), and a second-third finish by Phoebe Law and Elsie Woo in the 400m.
“It’s very rare and we’ve never had a team this strong before,” said Tan Yew Leng, the teacher-in-charge of the Nanyang Girls’ team. “As teachers and coaches, we are all really happy to be able to witness this today. I’m really very proud of how far the team has grown.”
NYGH’s win ensured a total of four titles for the Hwa Chong-Nanyang family of schools, with HCI capturing the C Division boys’ crown as well as both titles in the A Division – all by huge winning margins. Cedar emerged first among the C Division girls, with NYGH second.
A Division Boys
1st: Hwa Chong Institution — 257 points
2nd: Raffles Institution — 129
3rd: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) — 92
4th: Victoria Junior College — 68
A Division Girls
1st: Hwa Chong Institution — 260 points
2nd: Victoria Junior College — 113
3rd: Singapore Sports School — 92
4th: Raffles Institution — 75
B Division Boys
1st: Raffles Institution — 149 points
2nd: Hwa Chong Institution — 132
3rd: Singapore Sports School — 105
4th: Victoria School — 71
B Division Girls
1st: Nanyang Girls’ High School — 184 points
2nd: Cedar Girls’ Secondary — 159
3rd: CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School — 116
4th: Singapore Sports School — 67
C Division Boys
1st: Hwa Chong Institution — 189 points
2nd: Victoria School — 105
3rd: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) — 91
4th: Raffles Institution — 73
C Division Girls
1st: Cedar Girls’ Secondary — 179 points
2nd: Nanyang Girls’ High School — 144
3rd: Singapore Sports School — 80
4th: CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School — 71
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