Story and photos by Iman Hashim/Red Sports
Bukit Gombak Stadium, Thursday, May 5, 2022 — Finales at the annual schools track and field championships do not come as epic as this.
With all other events on the track completed and with dozens of pairs of eyes on him, Raffles Institution (RI)’s Aloysius Loh delivered on his final throw — and literally the last piece of action at the meet — to snatch victory and eclipse the A Division boys’ shot put (5kg) record with 17.89 metres.
And it was a pressure cooker situation up till that last moment, as the 18-year-old was trailing in the contest for gold despite being the favourite.
“It was a bit nerve-racking for me… because I usually throw around the 17-metre range, but I was ranging around 16 plus,” said Aloysius, who was leading the nine-men competition with his second throw of 16.87m before Hwa Chong Institution (HCI)’s Joshua Choo overtook him by one centimetre in the fourth round.
Aloysius then proceeded to foul both his fourth and fifth throws, as the tension built up.
“One throw… one throw… just one throw,” Aloysius could be heard muttering to himself a few moments before his final attempt.
And with one last hurl of the shot put onto the hole-laden patch of green ahead of him, raptures broke out along the track sidelines as his animated father, Amos, shouted “record! record!” amongst the crowd of Rafflesians who were lending Aloysius their support whilst the prize presentations for the relay events were ongoing.
Aloysius’ 17.89m effort surpassed the 2011 championship record of 17.68m set by HCI alumnus Wong Kai Yuen, as HCI’s Joshua settled for silver with 16.88m and teammate Wang Hanchen took the bronze with 15.37m.
Said Aloysius of the final few seconds before history was rewritten: “When it came to my last throw, I just told myself it was all or nothing… because it is my last year in Nationals and I’ve been aiming for the record for quite a while already.”
“I feel good,” said Aloysius’ father Amos. “But by right he should be getting a better (distance), because previously he hit 18.02m, a personal best as well as season’s best.”
“But this time, I think there was a lot of pressure on him… because it was the last event (at the meet), and at the same time there were so many people watching him… and the brother also broke the record, so he was under a bit of pressure,” said the senior Loh, whose younger son Anson won the C boys’ shot put and set a new age group and meet record in the discus also representing RI.
Aloysius had set a personal best 18.02m for the 5kg shot put in March this year at the Singapore Athletics All-Comers Meet 2, making him the only athlete other than Wong Kai Yuen (18.63m), since 2010 at least, to throw over 18 metres for that implement’s weight category. While under-20 competitions in the men’s event use the 6kg shot put, the U18 and boys’ B and A divisions use the 5kg.
And he admitted the pressure of being the favourite got to him.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure… because everyone sort of knew, because of the distance I threw at (All-Comers), that I was going to break (the record) or come close today,” said the final-year RI student, who trains under RI Year 5-6 throws coach Chen Jinlong and was under the tutelage of Choo Chee Kiong from Year 1 to 4 at the school.
“I’m pretty sure after the first few throws, the pressure really got to me, but at the last throw, I just thought to myself to keep calm,” added Aloysius, who also won the discus event earlier in the championships.
Said coach Jinlong: “He managed to deliver what he wanted… but let’s say based on training, he could’ve done better. Just now there were a few foul throws (4th and 5th)… (any of those) could have been a record.
“The pressure was really there, and for him the target was really to get the record. I really don’t know how… it was intense, he was tense, everyone here was tense.”
The tense atmosphere during the event was one to relish with the throwers finding themselves in the unusual situation of contesting the last event of this year’s meet, even after all the relay events had concluded.
And for the RI and HCI throwers, that pressure was compounded with only five points standing between their schools in the overall A Division boys’ team standings after the 4x400m relay final and going into the shot put.
HCI’s Joshua (2nd), Hanchen (3rd) and Neo Shyh Kai (6th) eventually did enough against Aloysius and his teammates Kan Fu Yi (4th) and Low Chuan Yi (5th), as HCI held on to their lead and clinched the A boys’ divisional title with 196 points to RI’s 193.
Meanwhile, Aloysius’ RI teammate Neo Le Teng won the A Division girls’ shot put a day earlier.
The first-year RI student recorded 9.48m to get the better of HCI’s Chin Dan Yu (8.87m) and Cheryl Lim (8.81m).
“The past few trainings haven’t been going very well for me, so I think the distance I did today was… I’m just relieved,” said Le Teng, who last won gold in the event in 2019 representing CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School in the C Division.
“But definitely I will try to push the distance further, and hopefully I will be able to do that.”
Le Teng also took part in the discus, placing sixth, but she said her main focus is the shot put.
“Hopefully I’ll be touching the (championship) record next year for shot put,” added the 17-year-old.
For Aloysius, the year-end A-Level examinations and National Service commitments next year await, but he cannot wait to enter the shot put circle and discus cage again as soon as possible.
“I would definitely want to continue throws… but because of army, I’ll just see where it takes me,” he said.
“But throws would definitely be in my heart for quite a while.”
63rd National Schools Track and Field Championships 2022
A Div Boys’ Shot Put Final
1st Loh Jing Jie, Aloysius (#232, Raffles Institution) — 17.89 metres
2nd Choo Xing Kai Joshua (#122, Hwa Chong Institution) — 16.88
3rd Wang Hanchen (#154, Hwa Chong Institution) — 15.37
4th Kan Fu Yi (#225, Raffles Institution) — 14.59
5th Low Chuan Yi (#233, Raffles Institution) — 14.58
6th Neo Shyh Kai (#142, Hwa Chong Institution) — 13.93
7th Benjamin Ng Zhi Yong (#288, Victoria Junior College) — 11.17
8th Chirag Vaswani (#289, Victoria Junior College) — 10.47
A Div Girls’ Shot Put Final
1st Neo Le Teng (#147, Raffles Institution) — 9.48 metres
2nd Chin Dan Yu (#81, Hwa Chong Institution) — 8.87
3rd Cheryl Lim Jia Zhen (#78, Hwa Chong Institution) — 8.81
4th Shaleen Nur Elysa Binte Muhammad Shahril (#212, Victoria Junior College) — 8.78
5th Chen Jing Ying Janelle (#77, Hwa Chong Institution) — 8.47
6th Tiyari Janvi (#218, Victoria Junior College) — 8.21
7th Sarah Leanne Bheem (#211, Victoria Junior College) — 7.79
8th Fernandez Aeriel Lhoreign Gonzales (#50, Changkai Changi Secondary) — 7.31
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