By Bill Puah (17S06B), Nerissa Loe (17A13A), Zara Karimi (18A01A), Marilyn Kang (17A01B), and Catherine Zou (17A01B)
Photos by Raffles Photographic Society and Loh Yuan Yee
With their peers cheering them on, the finalists took to the track at the National Stadium on 28 April, each hoping to deliver their best performance of the season. Despite the rowdiness of the crowd and the overwhelming uncertainty, the athletes still glowed with confidence and stood elegantly in front of the crowd.
On the fateful day, the finalists took to their positions for their respective races. Everyone was undoubtedly facing their own expectations, as well as those of the watchful crowd — some of the gazes fixed on them belonged to their friends, batchmates, or teachers.
It was easy to sense the anticipation arising from the crowd. While most understand that Track and Field is highly energy-draining, it is unlikely that anyone apart from the athletes can fully comprehend the intensity and the anxiety of the competition.
As sprinter Nicole Hu (17S03A) mentioned, “track teaches the runners to fight even harder because [they] have nothing else to lose, only to win back.” Against all odds, including themselves; such was the spirit of the Raffles Track and Field Team that saw them finish off the season with 9 podium positions.
In particular, Tanisha Moghe (18A01A) and the 4 x 100m Relay Girls excelled and attained 1st in their A Division events.
Against the sheer number of medals bagged, the runners from Track impressed not just by their achievements, but by their spirit of excellence. Tanisha, gold medallist for the Girls’ 100m sprint, said that even though she had won, she felt that her timings for my individual races were not satisfactory. “That just gives me motivation to train harder for other competitions,” she adds.
And no one is likely to question the hard work that the finalists had put in for their big day. When asked about the journey, Shafiq (17A01D), who won two silvers for his races, commented, “the harsh truth is that, for most of us, we’re going to lose more often than we win, but we still have to keep fighting, keep our dreams in sight, and never lose hope.” While not all may not have emerged victorious with titles or totems, we feel that all of their dedication is extremely commendable in itself.
It is difficult to be blind to this brand of resilience, when it is so passionately put on display. Sprinter Joshua Chua is one example of this. A few weeks before the start of Nationals, Joshua pulled a hamstring, resulting in him having to drop out of his individual hurdles event (100m). Still, Joshua pushed through, overcoming his injury to clinch the silver medal in the A Div Boys’ 100m sprint. In fact, this banner of unswerving dedication is one that is shared across the team and its multitude of events and athletes.
Clenyce Tan, too, was especially anxious for her 400m hurdles event — although she had been training for it since December 2015, she has had “to perfect hurdle technique”, especially because she needed to retain enough strength to clear the last 100m of hurdles. Yet despite her insecurities, her hard work did not fail her, allowing her to clinch 2nd in the 400m hurdles event with a score that would have won her the gold medal in all the finals since 2010 had another competitor not broken the record.
For many, the finals on Friday truly represented the essence of Track and Field — the very three words invokes the images of neck-to-neck sprints, or relays. In reality, it was only a concluding chapter to months of hard work and competition in a repertoire of different events, and likely marked the beginning of greater heights and distances.
The CCA had had a record of excellence throughout the season, bagging coveted medals in several events — many of which are, whilst less recognised as relays or sprints, equally arduous and demanding.
As Jordan Chia explained, Shot Put and Discus are both sports that require consistent technique: for Shot Put, it’s about engaging the whole body into the throw, and for Discus, “it’s all about the technique in the rotation.”. This challenge is often compounded by injuries — Jordan, “just like every other sportsman”, has had his fair share of them, but stated that “that’s sports and we just have to move on and keep getting stronger”, a drive that won him a gold medal in Shot Put and a silver in Discus.
Boys Long Jump and Triple Jump were no less challenging. Toh Wei Yu, who won a gold and a silver medal in both of the events respectively, told us that “both events require athletes to combine speed, strength and agility to leap as far as possible”, and all in a space of “less than a second”. This was made more difficult as he had sustained some injuries during season, which forced him to miss a few trainings. Yet despite the initial pressure, Wei Yu states that his “coach and teammates helped and encouraged me through tough times”. He concludes that “I might not have gotten a personal best at this year’s nationals but looking back, I believe that I have given my all and am happy with the results”.
More than just individual drive and hard work, a recurring theme across the interviews was a sense of being a team. Although Track may be seen as an individual sport, it is clear that the camaraderie between members is a source of support for many.
The significance of such camaraderie came alive in one of the most astonishing performances of the season, from Angelina Lim of 17A01D, who clinched 2nd in the Girls Javelin event. Originally from Netball, she was scouted during Raffles Games last year and subsequently invited to join the Girls Javelin team. When interviewed, she could only recount that her training with the team, which lasted for one and a half months prior to the start of this season, was “a very nice experience” because “everyone was very nice and supportive, which wasn’t what I expected.” Her praises for the team did not just end there, as she gushed, “The team is very very nice, super supportive, [and] super cheerful every training.”
For Jordan, it is a shame that, inevitably, “too many times we focus on winning so much that we forget the friendship that is so so valuable.” It is ever more heartening and worthwhile, and to Jordan — his proudest moment — when “we had finally finished our nationals — although we didn’t bring home that coveted trophy, we brought home our friendship and our team spirit.”. A sense of “being in something greater than yourself, with people that share the same passion”, as Jordan puts it, is what makes the experience of track both rare and amazing. Clenyce echoed these sentiments, telling us how much she hoped for her teammates to do well: “I trained with them and I know how hard they worked for this.”
With the conclusion of the Track and Field Championships 2017, Raffles Press would like to congratulate our runners for another stellar season, and wishes the whole Track team many more in years to come, of excellence and camaraderie.
A DIVISION RESULTS
|Pole Vault||Shi Jiayi, Joey||5th|
|100m Hurdles||Clenyce Tan||3rd|
|400m Hurdles||Clenyce Tan||2nd|
|3000m||Toh Ting Xuan||2nd|
|Hu Juan-Ning Nicole||8th|
|800m||Corrie Jireh Teo||4th|
|Chan Yi Juan||8th|
|4 x 100m Relay||—||1st|
|4 x 400m Relay||—||3rd|
|Javelin||Tan Yi Ren||3rd|
|High Jump||Lee Wen Jian, Justin||3rd|
|Foo Mao Yang, Alex||5th|
|Pole Vault||Tan Zheng Yu Thomas||2nd|
|Triple Jump||Toh Wei Yu||2nd|
|Long Jump||Toh Wei Yu||1st|
|Shot Put||Jordan Chia||1st|
|Jonathan Low Jun Jie||3rd|
|Jonathan Low Jun Jie||4th|
|110m Hurdles||Isaac Toh||3rd|
|400m Hurdles||Isaac Toh||2nd|
|100m||Joshua Chua Hanwei||2nd|
|Ryan James Tan Wei Ren||7th|
|1500m||Mohammad Shafiq Anshad||2nd|
|Aaron Chan Siang Joo||5th|
|4 x 100m Relay||—||2nd|
|4 x 400m Relay||—||4th|