Story and photos by Iman Hashim/Red Sports
Kallang Practice Track, Friday, April 29, 2022 — Despite multiple delays due to lightning warning and eventual postponement of the event to the next morning, Enoch Tew soared highest to win the A Division boys’ pole vault.
The first-year Victoria Junior College (VJC) student flew over 4.30 metres to conquer his competition, with the Raffles Institution (RI) trio of Rhineson Kok, Daniel Xiao and Liu Yucen coming in at 2-3-4 with clearances of 4.20m, 3.95m and 3.85m respectively.
“Obviously we were all quite annoyed about the lightning alert… because we did our warm-up, we stopped, we warmed up again, and then they told us to go home… but I think we coped pretty well with it, because we’ve been to a few competitions and the same thing happened,” said Enoch, who started pole vaulting in Secondary 1 in Victoria School.
The event, which initially commenced at 2.30pm on Thursday (April 28), was first disrupted by the sound of the lightning warning system half an hour in, and then resumed again slightly after 4pm.
As the pole vaulters restarted their warm-ups and were raring to go again, another lightning alert a few jumps in forced the postponement of the event to 9 o’clock the following morning — with the athletes having to report at 7.30am.
Said silver medalist Rhineson: “Before the competition yesterday, we were all very ready and mentally prepared, ready to fight for whatever positions we could get, but because of the disruptions, all that mental preparation and readiness just… I would say, it wasn’t there anymore.
“And the morning competition was quite dreadful… so we had to mentally prepare ourselves again.”
In an event which was only a three-school affair with athletes from VJC, RI and Hwa Chong Institution, both Enoch and Rhineson were clear above their competition as the only athletes who have cleared the four-metre barrier officially.
The two of them were successful over 4.20m on their first try, before Rhineson exited the competition at 4.30m. Enoch attempted 4.45m to surpass his personal best — which still stands at 4.40m set at the Singapore Athletics All-Comers Meet 1 in February this year — but by then, he could already be satisfied with the gold.
“Usually we don’t compete at 7.30 in the morning, so it was very tiring,” said Enoch, whose only previous national schools medal was a silver in the C Division three years ago, before the pandemic forced the meet into a two-year hiatus.
“My shins were hurting, my ankles were hurting, and on my first jump I actually pulled my shoulder because I planted outside the box… so it wasn’t the ideal competition.
“But you stay calm and you try your best,” he added.
Enoch also paid tribute to his teammates Joel Tan and Jonathan Quek as well as coach David Yeo who have helped him stay motivated in the sport throughout the last two years where competitions were few and far in between.
“I also want to thank my competitors,” he added. “Pole vaulting is a very small community but a very close-knit one… and it’s just really nice to compete with people who are all bonded by the same sport and supportive of one another.”
For Rhineson, it was more than a satisfactory end to his short-lived schoolboy athlete journey, with this meet only his second but final national schools championship after picking up pole vault in Secondary 3.
It was his first ever inter-school medal and the 4.20m he cleared was a huge competition personal best from his previous mark of 4.02m.
“I think throughout training for these past two years, the end goal was always to compete for nationals in either JC1 or JC2. So I’m happy and thankful that we were able to jump this year,” said Rhineson.
63rd National Schools Track and Field Championships 2022
A Div Boys’ Pole Vault Final
1st Tew Ci Yi Enoch (#314, Victoria Junior College) — 4.30 metres
2nd Rhineson Kok Ren Xiang (#238, Raffles Institution) — 4.20
3rd Daniel Xiao Cheng’en (#214, Raffles Institution) — 3.95
4th Liu Yucen (#231, Raffles Institution) — 3.85
5th Quek Yee Shian Jonathan (#308, Victoria Junior College) — 3.70
6th Tan Zu En Joel (#312, Victoria Junior College) — 3.55
Cheong Jay Keat (#120, Hwa Chong Institution) — NM
Terng Juin Chih (#148, Hwa Chong Institution) — NM
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Thank you for your very professional and timely reporting and wonderful pictures, we really appreciate your excellent work