Epilogue: It’s confirmed – Benjamin Ng is new national U-17 pole vault record holder

This posting is long overdue, and so my deepest apologies to all who have been waiting for some form of confirmation/conclusion/closure over whether Benjamin Ng’s height of 4.30m, cleared at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships is the new national U-17 record.

As you may recall, I wrote about this confusion in a previous entry (6 Aug 2008) entitled “So who is the national U-17 pole vault record holder? Solomon Tan or Benjamin Ng? The SAA says…”

I tried writing to the SAA to shed some light on the issue but Christina Tay, the CEO of the national sports body, declined to accomodate my request because “in view of your anonymity, we feel it inappropriate to make further comment,” she said. 

Fair play to them but I felt the reply was a disservice to the local athletics scene nonetheless.

A day later, I received a pleasant surprise via email.

A long-time observer of the local pole vault scene wrote to explain why Solomon Tan’s height of 4.35m, which he set at the 2001 National Schools Track and Field Championships, has not been recognised as the national U-17 mark.

I am going to reproduce his letter below. He has asked to remain anonymous.

But before I do so, my apologies to him and to all for the delay in putting this up. I was caught up with covering the Beijing Olympics during that period. Also, I felt that this entry would have been lost in the string of entries I posted about the Olympics.

Now that Olympic fever has died down, this is probably the best time to put this up. 

My thanks to the reader who sent the email.

And to all school teachers and coaches out there, please take his advice seriously – if you want your athletes’ achievements to be listed in the national record books, you’ve got to follow the proper procedures. Let us all do our bit – for the sake of local athletics, and for the sake of Singapore sport.

Meanwhile, my heartiest congratulations to Benjamin Ng for setting the new national U-17 record. I wish you all the best in your fledgling pole-vaulting career and hope to see you continuing to soar to new heights.  

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Email from a reader (received 7 Aug 2008):

Hi! Singapore Sports Fan,

 

I hope that I can help to answer your questions with regards to the Singapore National Men Under 17 Record.

 

Solomon Tan of The Chinese High School (now known as Hwa Chong Institution) cleared 4.35m at the 2001 National Inter-Schools Track & Field Championships. His birthdate is 28 April 1985, then 16 years of age by 31 December 2001 (under IAAF rules the age calculation is based on the last day of the competition year).

 

However, in 2001, the CCAB (Co-curricular Activities Branch of MOE) used teachers of various participating schools as officials. Thus, the supposed record height of 4.35m was not ratified. It was only in 2003 or 2004 that CCAB employed Singapore Athletics Association’s (SAA) IAAF certified officials.

 

IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) Rule 149 states that “No performance accomplished by an athlete will be valid unless it is accomplished during an official competition organised in conformity with IAAF Rules”.

 

Furthermore, for SAA to recognise and ratify records, the proper procedure (I suppose) would be CCAB sending official results of the event to SAA with the signatories of the certified IAAF officials involving in officiating the event. Unfortunately, CCAB has never done so before.

 

In addition, prior to the 2005 National Junior Championships, the pole vault was competed as an open category event, i.e. as long as you are a junior, you compete together with the seniors.

 

2005 was the year the Under 17 Category was introduced (for your interest, Under 15 category was introduced in 2007. In the same year, SAA started the Pole Vault Series organised on every last Saturday of the month).

 

At the 2005 National Junior Championships, the Pole Vault Men under 17 category was won by James Ting Jia Liang of Victoria School (born in 1989) with the height of 4.05m (April 2005). Hence, this height became the official Under 17 Record.

 

A bit of history: in March 2007, Jacob Yao Jun Jie of Catholic High (born 1992) lifted the record to 4.10m and then cleared 4.15m in April 2008 before Sean Lim (born 1993) scaled a 4.16m at this year’s National Junior Championships in June.

 

(Here’s another piece of information which may interest you: after that 4.16m record, Sean Lim cleared 4.20m on 28 Jun 2008 (2008 Pole Vault Series #6). But there were no certified IAAF officials around, hence the results were not ratified).

 

My purpose of answering all your questions is my hope that our local athletes can be educated through your sites with regards to the proper procedures of obtaining verified documents of competition results and sending them to SAA for record ratification.

 

If you run through the National Schools’ Records, you may also find that A Girls’ Triple Jump record is farther than the current National Record and some others I suppose. All have not been ratified for the same reasons stated above.

 

The senior men Pole Vault record would have been 4.79m by Mr. Ng Kean Mun and not 4.66m by Mr. Mok Hay Foo if Mr. Ng, then studying in Nebraska, USA, knew about this requirement.

 

I hope and very much appreciate that you would not name me when writing your report.

<end of email>

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