Story by Daniel Yeo/Red Sports.
NSC Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, July 22, 2018 — Before Kampton Kam had even attempted a clearance at the ASEAN Schools Games (ASG) high jump final, he already faced an obstacle of sorts.
“During qualification for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), I injured my ankle, and had to scale down my training to rest. This made me anxious and nervous, so coming into the ASEAN School Games, I had low expectations of jumping well,” Kampton admitted.
Be that as it may, Kampton overcame all that to claim Singapore’s first gold medal of the 10th ASG with his 2.10-metre clearance that rewrote a bevy of national records.
Kampton entered the year with a personal best (PB) of 1.96m recorded at the annual Victoria School Sports Day meet in 2017, but had already surpassed the 2m-mark thrice (2.02m – March’s National Schools Games; 2.03m – Hong Kong Inter-City Meet in June; 2.05m – YOG Asian Area Qualification on 5 July).
He seemed to get better as the months rolled on and carried his brilliant form into the ASG despite his injury setback. In a field of five, Kampton had first-time clearances at 1.90m, 1.95m, 2.01m, and 2.04m, before successfully negotiating 2.07m on his second attempt.
At this stage, only Malaysian Amer Haiqal Bin Ismail could keep pace with him, although he needed three attempts to clear 2.07m.
When the bar was raised to 2.10m, Kampton majestically sailed over it on his opening try and watched as Amer bowed out of the competition with three failures.
Kampton then had the bar set at 2.14m – the eight-year-old Games record was 2.13m held by Malaysia’s Nauraj Singh – but had two unsuccessful attempts before forfeiting his final try.
“I was in disbelief that I had actually cleared it on my first attempt. It also felt surreal as I had never attempted 2.10m in training,” the 17-year-old told Red Sports.
Kampton has his sights set higher, though, saying: “I’m aiming for a PB at the upcoming YOG and hopefully to finish in the top eight.”
This is the Victoria Junior College student’s second ASG. He finished fourth in a field of five at last year’s Games in Singapore, clearing a best height of 1.90m. Thailand’s Saksit Sittichai and Malaysia’s Mohamad Eizlan had a titanic battle for the gold medal, which went to the Thai on countback after both had cleared 2.07m.
Kampton had a front row seat to the action and that spurred him on to do better. “I have very fond memories of my first ASG last year despite not finishing with a medal or a PB. I think this really motivated me to train harder and come back stronger and to have a shot at a medal. The other competitors last year inspired me with the heights they jumped too,” said Kampton.
His historic jump of 2.10m erased four national records, all of which were set at 2.08m – the Under-20, Under-19 and Under-18 records set by Wayne Yap in 2009, and the Under-23 mark set by Ronnie Cai in 2004 and equaled by Wayne five years later.
Only two Singaporean men have jumped higher than Kampton. Nor Azahar Hamid set a national mark of 2.12m in September 1973, which stood for over 20 years till Wong Yew Tong equaled and then broke the mark several times in the mid-1990s, culminating in a 2.22m-effort which earned him the silver medal at the 1995 Chiangmai South-east Asian Games.
In total, Singapore’s track-and-field contingent took home four medals, with two silvers and a bronze accompanying Kampton’s gold.
Both silvers came from discus throwers Jasmin Phua and Jonathan Low.
Despite setting a new National Under-18 record at the 2018 NSG with a spectacular 45.80m, Jasmin could not reproduce that same success. She claimed the silver with a 38.61m effort, with the gold going to a 40.93m throw from Thailand’s Thanatda Promin.
On the other hand, Jonathan outdid his NSG 2018 showing of 53.30m but fell short of the gold, his 54.70m throw coming in second to a 55.94m throw by Malaysia’s Ngu Ing Biao.
As for the bronze, Matthew Lee recorded 15.98m in the shot put but lost out to Thailand’s Jakkapart Noisri and Malaysia’s Kee Jeep Wen, as they registered marks of 18.12m and 17.42m respectively. He also came up just shy of his 16.08m throw in the NSG 2018, which was a new Under-17 National Record.
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