Story by REDintern Alyssa Almas. Photos by REDintern Jared Khoo and Stefanus Ian/Red Sports.
Singapore Sports Hub, Thursday, March 28, 2019 — Singapore Sports School’s (SSP) Olivia Sallit and Nan Hua High School’s Mervyn Ong bagged gold in their respective Girls’ and Boys’ C Division 800-metre finals at the 60th National Schools Track and Field Championships.
In the Girls’ final, Olivia of SSP exceeded even her own expectations when she stole the lead coming round the bend in the final stretch of a tight race, winning the gold medal.
She said: “I felt quite good about today’s performance but I definitely wasn’t expecting to win overall. I personally was not aiming for gold, I had my eyes on just a podium finish to end off my individual events for this year, so it definitely shocked me, but it has definitely taught me to aim higher and set higher expectations.”
Olivia crossed the finish line with a time of 2 minutes and 38.55 seconds, just about half a second faster than silver medalist Esther Tay of Nanyang Girls’ High School, who clocked a timing of 2:39.17 to edge out bronze medalist Regina Ng of Raffles Girls’ by 0.03s.
Though it was a shock win for Olivia, the timing was not a personal best — her fastest time is 2:37.27, achieved in last year’s C Division final where she came in fourth.
Reflecting on the race, Olivia said: “Unfortunately I did not make a personal best this year — I kind of knew it after I ended the race as the first lap was quite slow, so I knew I wouldn’t make a PB in this race while running my second lap.”
While Olivia may not have surpassed her personal best, she definitely enjoyed running the race, thanks to the great show of sportsmanship by her fellow competitors.
“Overall, I feel my competitors today were healthy competition, very strong and really challenged me during the race,” said Olivia. “They were very respectful too, as after the race, many of them congratulated me and gave me a firm handshake and I really appreciated that. It was also quite fun competing against my fellow schoolmates as they pushed me to achieve the result I achieved.”
In the Boys’ event, Mervyn Ong of Nan Hua High School pushed himself all the way past the finish line to clinch the gold medal, edging out Kieran Andre Longue of St. Joseph’s Institution by 0.03s.
Mervyn’s timing of 2:11.27 was a vast improvement of his personal best, a timing of 2:15.16 achieved last year. This win also comes in addition to the gold he had won in the 1500m, sealing a double-double of middle distance golds for Nan Hua after his senior Lim Yu Zhe had also won both events in the B Division.
Having barely hung on to the gold medal, Mervyn acknowledged that his showing today was definitely not his best, saying: “I felt that my performance was not the worst, but also not the best, considering that I got a bad start. I was a little angry at myself for starting out too slow. I knew that I stood a chance in winning, but I knew that I had to work hard for it as I was aware that my competitors were pretty strong as well.”
Having overtaken all the other competitors, Mervyn faced one last challenge in his bid for gold — to overtake Kieran.
“The thing that went through the my mind in that last stretch was, ‘I know Kieran wants this win. But I want it as badly as he does, so I am not going to give in to him that easily’,” shared the Secondary Two student.
Speaking about the rest of his competitors, Mervyn was thankful that they were supportive and encouraging even off the track.
“I thought that they had put up a really good fight, especially Kieran. At the last 100m, he was just beside me. I could feel his hunger to win,” Mervyn said. “I also had a chat with some of the people, they were very optimistic. Overall, I felt that the competitors today were very strong people, both on and off the track.”
With all his events at the National Schools Track and Field Championships done and dusted, Mervyn hopes to complete a hat-trick by winning another gold at the National Schools Cross Country Championships in April.
C Division Girls’ 800m Final Results
1st Olivia Sallit (Singapore Sports School, #608) — 2:38.55
2nd Esther Tay Shee Wei (Nanyang Girls’ High School, #922) — 2:39.17
3rd Regina Ng Hui Jun (Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary), #741) — 2:39.20
4th Janelle Lum Wai Yan (Singapore Sports School, #605) — 2:39.91
5th Faith Lum Wai Sum (Cedar Girls’ Secondary, #772) — 2:40.09
6th Mathilda Soh Xuanya (Cedar Girls’ Secondary, #782) — 2:40.23
7th Eunice Chin Ee Teng (Nanyang Girls’ High School, #923) — 2:41.15
8th Kristel Koh Xiulin (CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School, #552) — 2:42.73
C Division Boys’ 800m Final Results
1st Mervyn Ong Shao Xuan (Nan Hua High School, #480) — 2:11.27
2nd Kieran Andre Longue (St. Joseph’s Institution, #272) — 2:11.30
3rd Thaarmin S/O Thana Rajan (National Junior College, #187) — 2:13.98
4th Lee Wen Jie (Evergreen Secondary School, #64) — 2:14.22
5th Ethan Thai (Catholic High School, #55) — 2:16.75
6th Zach Tan Shwee Wen (Raffles Institution, #241) — 2:17.74
7th Daniel Tang Jie Erne (Anglo- Chinese School (Independent), #142) — 2:18.77
8th Renfred Ong You En (Victoria School, #398) — 2:20.03
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