Story by REDintern Jessica Soo. Photos by Stefanus Ian/Red Sports
Choa Chu Kang Stadium, Monday, March 11, 2019 — “One of my biggest disappointments last year was not qualifying for the final. This year is, let’s just say, a shot at redemption.”
These fighting words from Lim Yu Zhe of Nan Hua High School (NHHS) held true as he adamantly held his lead throughout the race, simultaneously claiming the throne at his final B Division boys’ 1500 metres event at the 60th National Schools Track and Field Championships.
The 16-year-old spearheaded through the finish with a new personal best of 4 minutes 19.61 seconds, just slightly ahead of defending champion and friendly rival Chai Jiacheng of Raffles Institution (RI), with Harieharan S/O Durairaj of Singapore Sports School (SSP) following close behind. The boys clocked a timing of 4:20.86 and 4:22.45 respectively, which bettered their timings from last year’s final.
Due to calf injuries which affected the consistency of his training, Yu Zhe was unable to qualify for the final in the 2018 edition. As such, the win showed for his astounding return to the 1500m races, overwriting his disappointments from last year.
In addition to the win, he was pleasantly surprised to clock a new personal best, especially when he was consistently hovering around his previous best of 4:30 during training and even during the heats.
Right from the gun, the fastest three had set out on the track at a blistering pace, breaking free from the pack with Yu Zhe in the lead from the 300m mark onwards. Jiacheng kept close behind, continually challenging Yu Zhe for the lead as the duo pushed the pace. However, Yu Zhe was headstrong and was not willing to compromise.
“Before the race, I was already very firm and took my stance. I wanted to take the lead and have control of this race,” he said. “During the second last lap, I realised that I was quite comfortable, and (since I) wasn’t planning on losing my lead, I sped up the pace even further.”
From the stands, the crowd also witnessed the competition between Yu Zhe and Jiacheng. During the first few stretches of the last lap, the boys were running side by side, one trying to take the lead, and the other firm on keeping it.
Jiacheng commended the victor’s efforts, saying: “It was a very good run for Yu Zhe as even though I kept trying to overtake him, he didn’t let me.”
While the two were within strides of each other, Yu Zhe went all out with a burst of speed during the last lap, clinching the gold. Nevertheless, feelings after the race were positive ones, as per mentioned, the medalists secured their personal best timings.
“I think it was a good race overall,” Jiacheng, who fell only a second short in the last lap, concluded. “Although I was aiming for first, I am quite happy with my result as it is a PB and I think I pushed quite hard.”
B Division Boys’ 1500m – Top 8
1st Lim Yu Zhe (Nan Hua High School, #605) — 04:19.61
2nd Chai Jiacheng (Raffles Institution, #277) — 04:20.86
3rd Harieharan S/O Durairaj (Singapore Sports School, #136) — 04:22.45
4th Kumar Saran (Bendemeer Secondary School, #216) — 04:35.96
5th Martin Patrick Inglin (St. Joseph’s Institution, #340) — 04:36.64
6th Bryan Ong Ren Hean (Bukit Batok Secondary School, #513) — 04:37.09
7th Nicholas Koh Sheng Dhee (Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), #197) — 04:37.46
8th Joshua Khoo Jun Xian (Catholic High School, #52) — 04:38.00
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