Story and photos by Iman Hashim/Red Sports
Bukit Gombak Stadium, Friday, April 29, 2022 — In the event’s inaugural contest at the annual National Schools, Cedar Girls’ Choo Jia Yi and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)’s John Tan emerged as the champions in the C Division girls’ and boys’ 200-metre hurdles finals respectively.
Jia Yi, 14, crossed the line stopping the clock at 30.26 seconds, finishing ahead of Dunman High’s Amelia Pao (31.75s) and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ Hannah Goh (32.46s).
It greatly surpassed her personal best 30.78s in the heats, though helped by a 2.4m/s tailwind.
“I’m quite happy, I didn’t think I could do it,” said the Secondary 2 student.
“I get really, really nervous easily, and I tend to get tensed up and it affects my runs… but with Coach Joy’s support, I get slightly more confident… then at the last 100 metres, I just sprinted all out,” she added, crediting Cedar sprints coach Joy Kuan whom she has been training under for over a year.
With the 200m hurdles event being a new addition to the school championship’s C Division, Jia Yi and her coach had to adapt quickly in the past year. Previously, apart from the C girls’ 80m hurdles and boys’ 100m hurdles events, only the 400m hurdles has been contested in the boys’ C Division since 1993.
“She has had hurdles training throughout the season as we were initially preparing her for the 80m hurdles event,” said coach Joy.
“After knowing about the 200m hurdles, we made some adjustments and though there were frustrating times when she couldn’t get the rhythm, I’m glad we got it figured out in the end.”
Jia Yi’s hurdles win was her second gold medal of the meet, having seized victory in the 400m sprint in a quick 1:03.86, earning a Cedar 1-2 finish with teammate Caelyn Chew getting silver in 1:04.50 and National Junior College’s Tamara Tyles taking the bronze in 1:05.56.
Calling her an “energizer bunny”, coach Joy described Jia Yi as a go-getter who always pushes herself past her limits.
“I’m immensely proud of her for tackling both races with guts and confidence,” Joy added.
Moving forward, Jia Yi said she would possibly want to train for the 400m hurdles next year, especially since she considers the flat 400m her pet event. However, she admitted that she needs more confidence going into hurdles events.
“If I were to get nervous for 400m, it doesn’t really affect my run that much… whereas for hurdles you really need to be very focused. I think nervousness really affects my hurdles runs sometimes,” said Jia Yi, who also wanted to thank her coach, friends and family for their support.
Meanwhile, male counterpart John Tan of ACS(I) grabbed gold in the boys’ 200m hurdles final clocking 26.94s (+2.5m/s), getting the better of Hwa Chong’s Sun Zizhuo (27.44s) and Catholic High’s Hayden Ma (27.63s).
Having started hurdling in primary school, John said he was training for the 400m hurdles last year but there was no National Schools championship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This was my first 200m hurdles competition… I’ve been training for this event since December last year,” said the Secondary 2 student.
“It has been a lot of hard work… and the hard work paid off.”
Noting that he could do better, John was still satisfied with his performance. “My start was slightly slow, but overall I feel that it was a good race,” he said.
Like Jia Yi, John also won a medal in the 400m event, in a final which saw a 1-2-3 podium sweep for ACS(I).
John finished with the silver in 56.89s, behind teammate Harry Irfan Curran who won in a huge 52.56s, and ahead of bronze medalist Sean Russell Tay who clocked 58.34s.
Coached by Yusman Jamil, John also expressed hope to compete in the 400m hurdles starting next year in the B Division and continue winning medals.
63rd National Schools Track and Field Championships 2022
C Div Girls’ 200m Hurdles Final (W/G: +2.4 m/s)
1st Choo Jia Yi (#48, Cedar Girls’ Secondary) — 30.26 seconds
2nd Amelia Pao Tse Teng (#199, Dunman High School) — 31.75
3rd Goh Xu’en Hannah (#132, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’) — 32.46
4th Salisha Shi Li Macaskill (#388, St. Joseph’s Institution (International)) — 32.74
5th Heng Yu Xuan, Sarah (#290, National Junior College) — 33.24
6th Chong Kate Lynn, Lea (#265, Nanyang Girls’ High School) — 33.85
7th Kaelyn Wang Jing Han (#292, National Junior College) — 34.17
8th Sun Lanning (#283, Nanyang Girls’ High School) — 37.54
C Div Boys’ 200m Hurdles Final (W/G: +2.5 m/s)
1st John Tan Chih Kai (#56, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)) — 26.94 seconds
2nd Sun Zizhuo (#229, Hwa Chong Institution) — 27.44
3rd Ma Jia Qian Hayden (#126, Catholic High School) — 27.63
4th Daryen Ko Xin Tze (#310, Raffles Institution) — 27.93
5th Fang Rui Jun Kayden (#481, Victoria School) — 28.37
6th Ezekiel Tan Tiong Leng (#479, Victoria School) — 28.72
7th Wei Ze An (#446, Tanjong Katong Secondary) — 29.07
8th Mohamed Shahid Bin Mohamed Said (#434, Tanjong Katong Secondary) — 29.24
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