By Melissa Choi (16S06B) and Qiu Kexin (16A13A)
Photos by: Joel Lim Kuan (16S06B), Tan Rui Xuan (16S06B) and Red Sports Singapore
The humid Wednesday afternoon may have been typical of your average Singapore afternoon, but there was anything but the usual happening at Choa Chu Kang Stadium; for it happened to be the fateful day on which Raffles Institution’s Track and Field team was due to compete in the final leg of the national Track and Field Championships. The stadium itself, even before the races had begun, was already full of the hustle and bustle of competitors from various schools preparing for their various events, as well as their eager supporters arriving in droves.
Our Track and Field team did not need to be reminded that they would be challenging some of the best athletes their age in the whole nation,. The pressure had also been brought about by the CCA’s history; In 2013, the A Division girls had won 1st Place in the championships, by beating other schools by as much as 70 points. The A Division boys had however lost and come in runners-up; as such, they were feeling the weight of hope this year to do better. As Chung Yew Weng (15S06B) from Track and Field had expressed, “We [were] currently losing to Hwa Chong, our close rivals, by 20 points; so we hope to gain on them during our ‘strong events’ later.”
While our athletes were busy warming up, an undercurrent of tension was coursing throughout the stadium. There soon came a growing sense of anticipation among the feisty supporters in the Rafflesian audience, when it was time for the races to begin.
The first event was 100 Metres in Sprints. After a close dash in which all participants finished under 14 seconds, Laura Tan Ling Ying came in 4th place with a timing of 13.22 seconds, just a mere 0.2 seconds after Jerrinne Lim from Anglo-Chinese Junior College. Laura was also the Champion for 100m hurdles event.
Next up was the 100 Metres (A-Boys), in which Kennard Chin earned 2nd place with a timing of 11.18 seconds. Lee Jun Lei was 7th with a timing of 11.62 seconds, and Poy Meng Han Ian came in 8th just 0.1 milliseconds after Jun Lei.
The 800 Metres (A-Girls) race saw Team Raffles clinching the top two positions. Having run at the front of the pack throughout the race, Haidah and Natalie established a considerable lead in the last 300m. The duo got off to a long kick, with Natalie ahead of Haidah. Unfortunately, a stumble near the finish line saw the pole position handed over from Natalie to Haidah, who finished just 0.12 seconds ahead with a timing of 2 minutes 26.58 seconds.
What made her achievement more admirable was how, as Natalie commented, she had been exposed to a new pace this season.
As for Girls’ Captain Haidah, it was a happy ending for her. Since this was her final race in A Division, she “went all out”, and her effort eventually paid off as her timing was the fastest in six years. Because she had come in 2nd for the same event last year, she wished for this year to come in “fighting for gold, and thankfully, did it with the support of teammates, coaches, teachers, and parents.”
Next was Marianne, who also gave her all for the race, coming in 7th with a timing of 2 minutes 44.79 seconds.
In the next event, the 4 x 100 Metres Relay (A-Girls), Team Raffles was closely overtaken by HCI team at the third runner. Eventually, they came in 3rd with a timing of 52.09 seconds, a little more than 1 second behind first place HCI.
Team Raffles did well in the 4 x 100 Metres Relay (A-Boys). They came in 1st, achieving the season’s overall best timing of 43.30 seconds. The runners, Damien Kee, Ian Poy, Kennard Chin, and Lee Jun Lei, expected a tough fight from Hwa Chong Institution, since the latter had qualified the fastest in the heats, but our team still tried their very best, achieving a laudable result. The first half of the relay saw the first two runners obtaining a good head start. It was a pivotal turning point in the race as Kennard caught up to the first-place runner at the bend, while Jun Lei gave his all in the sprint and won it for the team. The team confessed that they were “very stressed over the race,” but “support from their coach, Mr Melvin Tan and teammates gave them the confidence to press on.”
By then, ominous clouds had gathered in the Westward sky. Still, the events continued. All the Rafflesians present, from Year 1 to 6, cheered vivaciously for the trackers and kept spirits up.
As said by Choo Qian Ke, (15S03M),”Match support is always integral in giving our competitors the strength they need… because it [lets them know] the school is behind them in whatever they do,” and as such she was “happy to be able to cheer them on because it gives athletes the drive needed to perform.”
Sprints Events Results
100 Metres (A-Girls)
- Laura Tan – 4th (00:13:22)
100 Metres (A-Boys)
- Kennard Chin – 2nd (00:11:18)
- Lee Jun Lei – 7th (0:11:62)
- Poy Meng Han Ian – 8th (0:11:63)
800 Metres (A-Girls)
- Nur Haidah Bte Ahmad Kamal – 1st (02:26:58)
- Natalie Soh – 2nd (02:26:70)
- Marianne Elizabeth John – 7th (02:44:79)
4 x 100 Metres Relay (A-Girls)
- Raffles Institution – 3rd (00:52:09)
4 x 100 Metres Relay (A-Boys)
- Raffles Institution – 1st (00:43:30)
High Jump (A-Boys) was the event next in-line, in first place was Wong Jingkai Bryan, with a stunning height of 1.95m. Zong Sim Hao from HCI also attained the same height, but a count-back determined Bryan’s 1st place. Outside this championship, Bryan had previously achieved a height of 2.01m, hence, it was understandable that afterwards, despite his first placing, Bryan felt there was room for improvement with his sub-2 metres result. However, he was determined to do better the next time round.
Blazer Quanjie James Challander (15S06G) secured 4th place with a new Personal Best height of 1.87m. He was happy about his performance: “I had not been doing as well as expected for the past one year, and I was working hard to get back to my best… But today, I just wanted to ‘give God the glory’, and I’m proud because my result reflected what I had put into it.”
The stellar showing by our team also marked the first time Rafflesians clinched the high jump gold medals in the boys’ C, B and A divisions.
Jump Events Results
High Jump (A-Boys)
- Bryan Wong – 1st (1.95m)
- Blazer Challander – 4th (1.87m)
Cross Country Events:
Due to the imminent downpour, the last event of the day was the 1500 Metres (A-Boys) event. Shohib led from the start while Glen Palmer and Paxton Hong of Victoria Junior College trailed 5 metres behind, along with the rest of the pack. Shohib continued to widen the lead in the second round. His teammates, Larry Law and Chester Lee, followed his lead and overtook Glen and Paxton.”It really boiled down to the last lap.” Larry remarked. By the third lap, Shohib had sprinted ahead to establish a 15m lead and eventually finished almost five seconds ahead of his teammate, Larry. Thus, Shohib B Abdul Wahab Marican finished in 1st place, with Law Ann Liat, Larry concluding the race in 2ndplace. Shortly after, Lee Zhong Kian, Chester followed past the finish line in 4th place.
Prior to this event, Shohib had won the champion titles for the 5000m event and March Cross Country events. He also led the Raffles Institution team to a podium sweep last year.
For Larry, this was an emotional victory as this was his first medal in 6 years. “I’m very happy. The plan was to set a fast race … and [Chester and I] did. The race was almost perfect for me.”
Cross Country Event Results
1500 Metres (A-Boys)
- Shohib Marican – 1st (4 min 18.56 seconds)
- Larry Law – 2nd (4 min 23.29 seconds)
- Chester Lee – 4th (4 min 29.09 seconds)
Onset of Bad Weather
Unfortunately, the 4 x 400 metres relays for both the A Division Boys and Girls were called off due to the rain, and carried out on another day. After the completion of all the events, Raffles Institution’s A Division Boys had come in 2nd Place, while the A Division Girls had come in 3rd Place.
The news that the school team had lost the title of 1st Place (and by a mere 2 points for the A Division Boys) was demoralising at first. However, the fortitude and courage exhibited by our athletes was undeniable. When quizzed about his thoughts on the results of the Championships, Teacher-in-Charge Mr Melvin Tan offered a resiliently optimistic view: “You can’t change the past, but you can do something about the future.” He also imparted a few words of advice that he wished to communicate to athletes: “You should embrace what lies ahead and do something [about it], such as working on weak areas. Continue [striving for] the common goal your team has, because months or years of training can go to waste if you are not motivated.”
After the competition, the Captains of the Girls’ and Boys’ teams also had many important insights to share.
Girls’ Vice-Captain Gabrielle Ong (15S06A) professed that it had not been easy for the trackers. “This year’s nationals was challenging, because [our competitors] had a lot of injuries and some people underperformed in their competitions, but today’s finals truly made up for everything.”
Girls’ Captain Nur Haidah (15S03E) shared that, “Our A Division girls are in the top three positions [currently], and stagnating there. (laughs) Considering we had no DSA trackers this year, it was a good result for us.”
As for the Boys’ Captain Joash Tan (15S03K), he had been impressed by the perseverance that some of his fellow Rafflesian trackers had demonstrated: “There were instances where athletes persevered to compete [though they didn’t have to], just in order to gain 1 point for RI.”
Among the many eye-opening and exhilarating happenings the audience witnessed today, the strength and bonds within the Track and Field team itself was one of them. We found that besides general moral support from fellow teammates or team relays (4 x 100, 4 x 400), even in singles’ races, which are perceived widely to be the fight of only individuals, there is an uncanny tendency to pace yourself with your race-mates and finish the race together. About its team spirit, Mr Melvin Tan maintained that despite impressions of Track as a fragmented CCA due to the separation of members into different event groups, “there is sharing of a common vision, which is what brings the CCA together,” such as “striving to do our best in competitions, not always for a title, but for ourselves.”
The Championships’ results may not have come out as planned, but ultimately, as long as there are lessons learned, there are no losers. The team had done well, as said by Nur Haidah: “Today, I saw that everyone truly gave their all, and I’m very proud of them.”
Raffles Press would like to commend the Track and Field team for their laudable performance despite the odds stacked against them. May everyone continue to persevere with ‘their teammates beside, and their limits behind’!
The results of the 2015 National Inter-School Track and Field Championships can be viewed here.