Story by Iman Hashim/Red Sports. Additional reporting and photos by Stefanus Ian/Red Sports.
Choa Chu Kang Stadium, Monday, March 11, 2019 — There was perhaps a feeling of déjà vu for Hwa Chong Institution’s Tham Mei Shuen and Dunman High School’s Lim En Ning in the A Division girls’ high jump final.
In last year’s final under the National Stadium roof, both girls found themselves having cleared 1.54 metres as tension rose along with the height of the bar.
With both girls failing at 1.56m — along with two other athletes — a countback saw En Ning place joint-second and Mei Shuen fourth.
This year at the 60th National Schools Track and Field Championships, it once again boiled down to a decisive 1.54m-high bar as the field was whittled down to its final three jumpers: Mei Shuen, En Ning and Singapore Sports School’s Yasmeen Marie Lutfi, who eventually placed first to third respectively.
After all three girls failed at their first attempt over 1.54m, pressure mounted as Mei Shuen knew she had to clear this height to stand any chance of clinching gold — earlier En Ning had cleared 1.52m on her first try while Mei Shuen took two attempts, and Yasmeen only succeeding on her third.
“I feel that I could jump better at lower heights, but at higher heights, I feel I need to focus more on my technique, not just clearing the bar,” reflected Mei Shuen after the event. “I think it’s a mental thing.”
Thankfully for Mei Shuen — who also competes in pole vault — she got both her nerves and technique under control as she sailed over 1.54m on her second try, while both En Ning and Yasmeen would only clear it after three attempts. It was advantage to Mei Shuen.
It would then come to the wire at 1.56m when Mei Shuen, whose personal best is 1.55m set at last month’s Schools Episode 3, was the first to use up all three of her tries and fell short — leaving her fate out of her hands. All she could do was watch and wait.
En Ning, who won this event in the B Division two years ago with a personal best 1.57m, knew the gold was for the taking — but was adamant she was already satisfied at that point.
“I didn’t expect to jump so high,” explained the sixth-year DHS student. “(I’m nursing) injuries, and I focus more on long jump now. I was just hoping to jump above 1.5 (metres), so like 1.52.”
“I think I already met my own expectations, so I was more relaxed,” she continued. “So when I saw (Mei Shuen failing all three tries at 1.56m, it did cross my mind that) I wanted to try and beat her, but if I can’t then it’s also okay.”
“I’m quite happy I still ended it on a good note for myself,” concluded En Ning.
As fate would have it, En Ning and Yasmeen were both unsuccessful in their final 1.56m attempt, with the countback sealing Mei Shuen’s maiden gold medal — and first ever top three finish — in the annual National Schools championships.
Nonetheless, Mei Shuen said she regretted not breaking her personal best.
“I just wanted to jump well, I didn’t think about the placing,” she said, and is now looking to crack her best mark at the Singapore Open at the end of the month.
For En Ning, she would go on to retain her A Division girls’ long jump title two days later, and is now gearing up to run in the relays for DHS on the final day.
A Division Girls’ High Jump – Top 8
1st Tham Mei Shuen (#525, Hwa Chong Institution) — 1.54 metres
2nd Lim En Ning (#439, Dunman High School) — 1.54
3rd Yasmeen Marie Lutfi (#328, Singapore Sports School) — 1.54
4th Yin Yichen (#471, Victoria Junior College) — 1.45
5th Lock Yi Qing (#461, Victoria Junior College) — 1.35
6th Esther Kao Shi Ying (#507, Hwa Chong Institution) — 1.35
7th Tang Jialu (#522, Hwa Chong Institution) — 1.35
8th Sharryl Seto Shau Ru (#490, Anglo-Chinese Junior College) — 1.30
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