This was actually the second part of my previous post on Koh Thong En breaking the national junior record for the javelin. I had also written about Benjamin Ng possibly breaking the National U-17 pole vault record:
“Meanwhile, it looks like young Benjamin Ng of Hwa Chong Institution may have pole-vaulted his way to a new national age-group record at the Singapore Open.
“Ng, who finished second at the National Schools Championships B Division final with his 4.00m effort, bettered that by 0.30m as he lifted himself to third place at the Singapore Open with his massive 4.30m effort.
“Pending ratification, that height is a new national U-17 mark as it is better than the 4.16m set by Sean Lim, also from Hwa Chong, during the Singapore Juniors.
“In fact, Benjamin was tied with Emerson Obiena of the Philippines but must have lost the silver on counback. Obiena’s compatriot, Jerome Margallo, took the gold with his 4.50m effort, which was way below the Singapore Open and Asian record of 5.40m set by Japan’s Toshiyuki Hashioka in 1992.”
However, a kind reader has pointed out a discrepancy (see reader SL’s comment in my previous posting) – that it is stated in the record books and result sheets of the National Schools Track and Field Championships that Solomon Tan vaulted 4.35m in 2001 in the Boys B Division competition. So which is the actual national U-17 mark?
My heartiest thanks to reader SL for pointing out Solomon Tan’s B Division record of 4.35m which he set during the 2001 National Schools Track and Field Championships.
This height is also listed in the Singapore Schools Sports Council’s record books as a Schools National mark.
See this link: schools-national-records-2008
Now the question remains: why is Solomon’s height not an age-group record in the SAA records?
Instead, Jacob Yao was originally listed as the National U-17 record holder with 4.15m in the official results of the 34th Singapore Junior Athletics Championships.
This mark was subsequently broken by Sean Lim during the Championships when he cleared 4.16m. I am assuming that the capital ‘A” next to his result means that he is now the new age-group record holder.
See this link: 34sjac2008-results-session5
So, last weekend, when Benjamin Ng cleared 4.30m to finish third in the Men’s Pole Vault at the 70th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships, I immediately assumed that his height would be the new national U-17 record, pending ratification of course.
(See this link for Benjamin’s result: 70sotfc2008-results-day21)
After I was alerted to the discrepancy, I wrote to the SAA to ask if the SAA could clarify whether Solomon Tan’s 4.35m should have been the national U-17 mark in the first place instead of Jacob Yao’s 4.15m
I also asked whether this discrepancy had arisen because Solomon’s mark was not ratified or submitted for ratification. I had also asked if there was a possibiliy that the Singapore Schools Sports Council is able to ratify new records on its own.
This perhaps could have explained the discrepancy ie perhaps the SSSC did not alert the SAA to Solomon’s mark.
Unfortunately, it looks like we may never know the reasons. Nor will we ever know whether Solomon should be acknowledged as the national U-17 record holder.
The SAA has replied that it is inappropriate for the SAA to comment on queries from anonymous email senders (I had signed off my email to the SAA as the Singapore Sports Fan).
So disappointly, it looks like we will never know what is the true National U-17 mark which is a discredit to both Solomon and Benjamin. The former will always feel that he should be the rightful record holder while the latter will always feel that his ‘record’ is not a true one.
Perhaps we can only find out when the SAA updates its age-group records at the end of the year or when the next Singapore Junior Athletics Championships comes around.
You can be sure that I will be scrutinising the Boys U-17 Pole Vault details then to see who is being listed as the record-holder and whether the SAA has quietly made any changes.
In the meantime, if you, dear reader, are interested in getting a clarification from the SAA, do write to the national body and do let me know what their reply is. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan