Story and photos by Iman Hashim/Red Sports. Additional reporting by Erwin Wong/Red Sports
National Stadium, Friday, April 28, 2023 — Having already surpassed his 1.85-metre personal best twice as the field was whittled down to two in the B Division boys’ high jump final, Viresh Kumar could have easily been content with his showing even as he was trailing in the contest for gold.
But there was no barrier too high for the bullish St. Patrick’s School athlete, as he stared down the 1.90m-high bar and urged his fellow competitors and the crowd to clap along with him.
“At the end of the day, it’s just me, myself and I fighting for the medal,” said the 16-year-old after the event.
“It’s just me who will get it or lose it. In the end, I really fought for it.”
A faultless curved run-up later, Viresh took flight over 1.90m on his first attempt and looked up in disbelief as the bar remained intact. That was his third PB of the afternoon and it proved enough to snatch victory after a high jump marathon which lasted at least three hours.
“There was a lot of pressure. There was someone who was ahead of me quite a number of times,” Viresh said, referring to Raffles Institution (RI)’s Rei Tan, the B boys’ triple jump champion (13.33m), who had to be consigned to second place in his pet event.
“It took me a lot of courage to be here today, I struggled a lot. There were a lot of ups and downs, but at the end of the day, it’s amazing to get the win,” added Viresh.
Up till the previous height of 1.88m, RI’s Rei had been the frontrunner for gold, maintaining a spotless record of clearing every height he attempted in one try.
On the other hand, Viresh had taken the maximum three attempts to clear 1.80m, two attempts at 1.84m, and only went over 1.88m on his second try.
But Rei, who set a new C Division and national under-15 record of 1.85m last year, eventually faltered in all of his PB-equalling attempts at 1.90m to settle for silver on his B Division debut.
Rei’s RI teammate Lau Jia Hern and Victoria School’s Joash Tam both cleared a best height of 1.80m, but the latter claimed the bronze on countback.
Viresh’s win saw him become the first St. Patrick’s boy to win a B Division high jump medal of any sort, since 1970 at least*.
The gold also added to his bronze medal in the long jump, where he leapt a distance of 5.99m.
Giving credit to his coaches Tang Ngai Kin and Ronnie Cai, Viresh said: “They were always there for me at my lowest, they always taught me to do my best, be myself and not let anyone interfere in what I do. So I thank them a lot for that.”
*Note: Missing data in some years
64th National Schools Track and Field Championships 2023
B Div Boys’ High Final
1st S Viresh Kumar (#601, St. Patrick’s School) — 1.90 metres
2nd Tan Shou Yi Rei (#507, Raffles Institution) — 1.88
3rd Tam Jong-Hng, Joash (#710, Victoria School) — 1.80
4th Lau Jia Hern (#489, Raffles Institution) — 1.80
5th Wong Si Han (#192, Catholic High School) — 1.73
6th Jonah Jude Seah Yong Le (#689, Victoria School) — 1.73
7th Aryan Mehta (#579, St. Joseph’s Institution (International)) — 1.73
8th Chan Tzao Han Timothy (#474, Raffles Institution) — 1.70
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