How time flies.
It’s been a year since my last post because I’ve been busy with work and other personal commitments. Much has happened in the local sports scene which I’ve not been able to record. Pity.
This achievement by Chan Sheng Yao, however, stirred something in me and I just felt that I had to record it down for posterity. Here’s the report from TODAY:
Sheng Yao vaults to the top (TODAY Online, 6 April 2013)
By Charles Ong
SINGAPORE— Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) student Chan Sheng Yao created local sporting history in the most impressive manner yesterday as he pole-vaulted his way to the Boys “A” Division gold at the 54th National Inter-School Track & Field Championships at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
The 17-year-old student cleared 4.82m to clinch the title and, in doing so, broke a string of national records in the discipline. Not only did Sheng Yao’s winning height erase Sean Lim’s national open record of 4.81m which was set in June 2011, it is also a new national U-23, national junior and youth mark.
That is not all — it is also a new “A” Division record, replacing the 4.80m-mark set by Sean at the 2011 edition of the schools championships.
Sheng Yao has also qualified for this December’s South-east Asian Games as a result.
Yet, all of this nearly did not happen for the teenager yesterday.
After failing to clear 4.31m on his first two attempts, he was under pressure and barely succeeded on his final try to keep his gold medal hopes alive.
At that point, the event was still a three-horse race, with Raffles Institution’s Nick Ho and HCI’s Darren Tan still in contention.
But Sheng Yao subsequently clinched the gold when he cleared 4.41m while both Nick and Darren failed to do so (Nick eventually took the silver on countback while Darren finished third)
Once the yoke was lifted from Sheng Yao’s shoulders, he started gunning for the national record.
After clearing 4.70m and qualifying for the SEA Games, he then produced his record-breaking feat.
But despite the huge smile on his face after the event, Sheng Yao, who is coached by David Yeo, nevertheless described yesterday’s competition as one of his “hardest nationals ever”. He admitted: “It was very tough to even secure the gold medal today.”
He credits Sean, his senior and friend, who is also coached by Yeo, for inspiring him to make such a massive leap from his previous personal best of 4.64m, set at last year’s “B” Division Boys’ final.
“Had Sean not broken the national record (of 4.66m set by Mok Hay Foo in 1993) two years ago, then I would have been aiming to just beat 4.66m today … But by doing so, he raised the bar for me, and showed that anything is possible.”
Yeo also played a part in ensuring the national record was broken yesterday. “When Sheng Yao was attempting the national record, I allowed the officials to announce it,” he said. “Even though it might have put pressure on him, I felt that it was perhaps what he needed to perform. My bet was that it would get him over, and it did.”
Sheng Yao now plans to focus on July’s IAAF World Youth Championships in the Ukraine before turning his attention to the SEA Games in Myanmar in December.
“My target is to qualify for the final at the World Youth meet and maybe finish among the top three — which usually has a minimum requirement of 5.1m,” he said.
Then he added with a smile: “That, in turn, means that I will need to break my own record again.”
Just like how Sean Lim did it in 2011, Sheng Yao broke a whole string of records, including, most importantly, the national open pole vault record, with his 4.82m effort at the ongoing National Schools Track & Field Championships.
The Hwa Chong Institution student has also qualified for the SEA Games. And all this at the tender age of 17. (actually, he also qualified for the last SEA Games in 2011 but it seems that he could not take part as he was underaged)
What a fantastic achievement. My heartiest congratulations to Sheng Yao, and to his coach, David Yeo. Here’s wishing him all the best at the IAAF World Youth Championships in July, and at the SEA Games in Myanmar.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan
Here’s a great picture montage of Sheng Yao’s achievement by Terry Tan Lee Ban. I found it on the Singapore Athletic Association’s Facebook page.