School sports: Bringing gold to the neighbourhood

Fang Yiyang (centre) of Commonwealth Secondary School stands with St Joseph's Institution's Dave Tung and Guangyang Secondary School's Ruben Loganathan on the podium after winning the 2000m steeplechase.
Fang Yiyang (centre) of Commonwealth Secondary School stands with St Joseph's Institution's Dave Tung and Guangyang Secondary School's Ruben Loganathan on the podium after winning the 2000m steeplechase.PHOTO: HENG OOI KHIANG
Hwa Chong Institution's Ow Yeong Wei Bin took gold in In the A Div 400m hurdles, beating the previous meet record set by his brother.
Hwa Chong Institution's Ow Yeong Wei Bin took gold in In the A Div 400m hurdles, beating the previous meet record set by his brother.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Commonwealth Secondary's Fang Yiyang snags school's first gold in 15 years

After traditional long-distance running powerhouses Raffles Institution (RI) and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) swept the gold medals in the last few years, relatively unfamiliar faces took to the podium in this year's National Inter-School Track and Field Championships.

Last week, Pasir Ris Secondary School's Syed Hussein bagged the B Division boys' 3,000m title in 9min 44.86sec at Bishan Stadium, a month after wining the national inter-schools cross-country title.

The neighbourhood schools continued to spring surprises yesterday at the B Division boys' 2,000m steeplechase as Fang Yiyang from Commonwealth Secondary School took top spot (6:43.20).

It was Commonwealth's first track and field gold in 15 years, after Suriya Prakash won the B Division 3,000m event in 2001.

Yiyang, 16, said: "I feel extremely proud to have brought the school gold. Everyone's been really supportive of me and I'm so happy to be able to pay them back."

Having ended the gold drought, Yiyang - who then went back to school to sit for a history exam - believes neighbourhood schools can still triumph at the national meets.

He said: "You don't need to be from a big school to win gold. If you look at Hussein and what he did in cross-country, it's a clear example.

"I was inspired by him after that to do well in my races and give it my all to get my first gold."

A national record was also smashed yesterday when Victoria Junior College's Vanessa Lee lowered the 2,000m steeplechase women's U-20 mark (7:38.16) in the A Division girls' final (pending ratification). She beat her own national mark of 8:00.94 set last year.

The 18-year-old finished ahead of schoolmate Nicole Low (7:56.82) and RI's Faye Chiang (8:25.16).

Hwa Chong Institution's Ow Yeong Wei Bin was another record-breaker as he took gold with a time of 54.19sec in the A Division boys 400m hurdles. Coincidentally, he erased the previous meet record of 54.56sec set by his older brother Yu Xiang in 2013.

The championships will end on Friday at the National Stadium with events like the 100m, 800m and 4x100 relay races scheduled.

This will coincide with the 11-day block of athletics events held at the 55,000-seater stadium. Besides the April 28-29 Singapore Open Track and Field Championships, the National Stadium will host the ActiveSG Athletics Fiesta from April 30-May 1 before the May 4-8 Asia Masters Athletics Championships.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Bringing gold to the neighbourhood'. Print Edition | Subscribe