Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jeffrey Ng's 3000m record for National Age Group (under 17) Championships still intact

By Rameshon

From year 2003, the 9min 21sec National Age group record for under 17 boys has stood the test of time 

Yesterday, Victoria Junior College's Nicole Low broke a 13-year-old record in the A Div 3,000m. She clocked 10min 57.61sec, a shade under the 2003 mark set by Hwa Chong Junior College's Pamela Chia (10:59.21).  

For the 3000m race for under 17 boys, Jeffrey's record was also threatened but again it stood the test of time, as it shows that the performance, set in year 2003, is not an easy thing to be broken. A lot of  time, money and effort was needed and also in that year Jeffrey Ng scored 10A1s for GCE 'O' Levels, prelims, and then later on he scored 9A1s, with 1A2 for the real GCE 'O' Levels, itself. A feat that showed great balance in showing excellence in studies and sports. (Not only that, Jeffrey has never once crowed about his achievement to his strings of multiple victories, in the past). 

From the start of the 3000m race, Syed Hussein pushed the pace and went upfront and did a 31-32sec for the 200m and a 1min 10sec for 400m. At the 1km mark, the time stood at 3m 11sec. I knew, instantly, that these guys are going for first, second and third rather than breaking the record. 

A few days ago, Ruben Loganathan, in heats 2 did a time of 3min 07sec, which showed the possibility. However, in the heats, he felt tired over time and win the heats in 9min 59sec. The same tiredness was shown by Syed Hussein, over some time, in 3000m as the day was extremely hot. 

Immediately after the race of 3000m finals, I was told by someone that a Maris Stella boy, a contender for top 3 position in the race, just gave up, all of a sudden, and pulled himself out of the race. I believe that this could be due to dehydration. It was wise thing to do and I too usually say this for my athletes as well, to take safety into consideration.

Ruben Loganathan 4th in 3000m boys under 17 (second from left) standing, with Brian Ye on my left, who also did the school proud by coming in 9th, in the final, instead of 16th that he got from his overall heats timing. 

With the scorching heat, Syed pushed the pace and was upfront all alone. This was where I had spoken to Ruben Loganathan to go to Syed Hussein in the second lap or third lap to close up with Hussein so that both will end up with better timing. (Ruben has a personal best which is much faster than the race time itself). 

However, Darrel, a former runner of mine, 2 years back, (with teacher and coach Gerard Danker, now), an athlete of Queensway Secondary School, was blocking Ruben and this was found in the video footage taken by a parent. When Ruben wanted to move to Syed Hussein, Darrel, wanted to be in front of the group to be the top 3 runner. Hence he kept blocking. As the pace slowed down, for few rounds, Ruben tried to go to the front but it was to no avail. Finally, he went to second lane and Darrel when to second lane and caused an intentional block. The officials, may be, were busy, so hence, they were not able to see this. Many spotted this and discussed this with me.

When Ruben surged, Darrel also surged to the lane that Ruben was running. Ruben could not do anything but to keep surging, with Darrel kept on blocking. After a time, both runners were very tired, and a Commonwealth School athlete and Hwa Chong athlete ran and overtook both Ruben and Darrel finally. 

Syed Hussein was also threatened by the weather such that the runners behind were catching up. Ruben and Darrel were fading. Eventually, Syed Hussein was able to pull away at the last 300m and won the race, which was 23second away from the record. Ruben ended 4th and he had to give a very hard fight to an ACS (Barker Road) student. Ruben should be sprinting with Syed Hussein, instead. 

As I had seen this, I called up one of my former Queensway Secondary School runner, a female athlete, to give me Darrel's hand phone number, as I was his teacher and coach, in the past. I asked Darrel why he deprived Ruben of going in front as Ruben had the chance of first and second. To this, Darrel told me that he was just running in front so that he can get top 3, if possible. I asked him on why when Ruben ran to second lane, he did not stay in his own lane. Darrel could still lead or stay in first lane as Ruben can run in second lane.   Darrel on second lane, ran back to Ruben's lane, where the latter ran back to lane one. Darrel ran to lane one to block intentionally again. I told that it is the same as playing soccer or a game, instead of taking the complex skills that an opponent pose as the obstacle, he has taken the person as the obstacle. This was taught to me in Loughborough University of Technology on the values that sports can give, and fair sport is very important.  

Darrel was repentant to this and he told me that he will not do this again. I spoke to him about sportsmanship and that he did not display yesterday. Upon seeing him as receptive, I told him not to do it to anyone again. Also, when one does this, the race of both runners involved will definitely suffer. To my experience, races that has 'overtake and overtake back' about 3 times is enough to cause extreme exhaustion. I have experienced this and always tell my athletes to avoid the situation. Darrel was 15th and the last runner because of this and I could him not able to complete the race properly. 

I told Darrel on how I ran a Swift Relay race somewhere in the 1990s, and when I got second place, I ran for first 100m of the 3.2km MacRitchie Route (girls route) and was blocked by a runner called Surinder Gill. As I felt stronger, i went to right hand side of the athlete to overtake, the runner went to my lane to block. Hence, to be fair to him, I decided to run on the left to overtake and go faster, as I wanted a faster time. the opponent was trained by Sivalingam, a former national coach. There was no official to see this. I don't blame the officials of not seeing this as it was performed in the forest and it is not an open environment. Again, the boy blocked me. To this, I had to be street smart. I knew that at the end of the race I may die out. I knew that I have to get out of this situation and it must be immediate. Hence, I mustered up my courage and surged extremely hard. As soon as I was way in front, Surinder kept chasing me to run in front of me rather than to run side by side. Again, I gave a relentless push and I did not hear Surinder's footsteps anymore. On that day, I gave the baton relay as first to Swift and was extremely fatigued by this unfair competition. I was hoping that this should not happen to anyone as we do not know who is the true winner finally. 

Having said that, I feel that yesterday's race was ran not to the best race, even for Hussein, to my perception. i always believe in challenging an opponent when they are at their best and not when they are at their worst condition or to cheat the opponent and win. Winning by cheating is pointless and being a good sportsmanship is very important for winning. Athletes are to learn this so that in future one can put to practice in workplace on the importance of working hard to succeed and not by cheating and succeeding. 

As for Jeffrey, I applaud the day, in the past, he had to contend with a number of very good athletes and his record says something about him. SEA Games bound Pamala Chia's record for 3000m was erased but not Jeffrey's. I will inform Ruben on how Jeffrey had won races in fair manner and rose to what he is now.