Athletics: Four golds and a record for Singapore youth athletes

Eric Yee (second from right) with Dr Govindasamy Balasekaran (third from right), team manager of the SEA Youth Championships contingent. Eric won gold in the boys' 1.5kg discus event with a throw of 5.01m, setting a new championship record and qualif
Eric Yee (second from right) with Dr Govindasamy Balasekaran (third from right), team manager of the SEA Youth Championships contingent. Eric won gold in the boys' 1.5kg discus event with a throw of 5.01m, setting a new championship record and qualifying for the 2017 Asian Youth Games in the process.ST PHOTO: MAY CHEN
Tia Rozario (centre) won the gold medal in the long jump with a distance of 5.86m.
Tia Rozario (centre) won the gold medal in the long jump with a distance of 5.86m.ST PHOTO: MAY CHEN
Lui Yuan Chow (centre) ran 9min27.8sec in the 3,000m boys' final, clinching gold.
Lui Yuan Chow (centre) ran 9min27.8sec in the 3,000m boys' final, clinching gold. ST PHOTO: MAY CHEN
Marcell Tan (centre) won the boys' 110m hurdles with a time of 14.38sec.
Marcell Tan (centre) won the boys' 110m hurdles with a time of 14.38sec. ST PHOTO: MAY CHEN

Singapore's youth athletes put up a strong showing on the first day of the 11th South-east Asia Youth Athletics Championships, bagging four gold medals and setting a new championship record.

This is Singapore's best-ever showing at the championships, held at the Thammasat University Sports Complex in Bangkok, Thailand.

"We wanted to win golds and have our best performance at the meet," said Dr Govindasamy Balasekaran, team manager of the Singapore contingent.

"The more the merrier."

The Republic's athletes certainly achieved that aim, with Eric Yee, 17, setting a new championship record in the boys' discus 1.5kg event with a throw of 55.01m, which also won him the gold medal.

However, this feat did not come as a surprise to Dr Balasekaran.

"We knew that Eric was strong, as he has previously thrown a distance of 55.06m. But we did not want to put any pressure on him, so we did not talk to him about the record or winning the gold.

"He definitely rose to the occasion."

Eric's performance has also qualified him for the 2017 Asian Youth Games (AYG), which take place in Jakarta.

Tia Rozario, 16, also qualified for the AYG, winning gold in the girls' long-jump event with a 5.86m effort.

The track events also yielded two gold medals for Singapore. Lui Yuan Chow, 17, won the boys' 3,000m in 9min 27.8sec.

Marcell Tan clocked a time of 14.38sec to win the 110m hurdles.

Dr Balasekaran believes that these athletes have tremendous potential, and could do Singapore proud in the near future.

"We need to help them move up to the elite," he said.

"They need all-around support in terms of mental help, psychological help and physiological help.

"With these athletes, Singapore athletics will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the future."

The Championships conclude today. Singapore could yet add a fifth gold medal to its haul, with Yuan Chow gunning for his second gold medal of the meet in the boys' 1,500m event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 24, 2016, with the headline 'Four golds and a record for S'pore youth athletes'. Print Edition | Subscribe