It would have been difficult to imagine the soft-spoken and bookish Wu Xinyao doing anything other than studying for examinations.
Yet, the Hwa Chong Institution student is not a typical bookworm. The 18-year-old won the 3,000m walk at the Asean Schools Games (ASG) yesterday in 15min 16.43sec, beating Kotchaphon Tangsrivong of Thailand (15:39.07) and Myanmar's Zin May Htet (16:02.64) at the Bishan Stadium.
It was Singapore's second gold in the track and field competition, after Nanyang Girls' High's Jasmin Phua clinched a discus gold on Saturday. The Republic finished with two golds, four silvers and two bronzes - compared to the previous ASG haul of two gold, four silvers and seven bronzes.
Xinyao was in last place of the six competitors after the first lap but reminded herself that endurance and patience would eventually yield results.
She said: "For the 3,000m, you need speed to be able to pull away easily from the rest but at the same time also have endurance to sustain that lead. I am very happy that I managed to do that despite being last in the first lap."
Xinyao's motivation comes from past failure - the former Deyi Secondary School student was disqualified a few metres before the finishing line in the Schools National B Division girls' 1,500m walk final last year after she made a mistake and broke into a slight run.
Yet she managed to make a comeback by winning the A Division 3,000m walk, setting a schools record of 15:59.02 in April.
"I was actually so sad (after the disqualification)," she recalled. "The failure motivated me to break the record and win the medal in the A Division this year. It also made me work harder on my technique."
The final day of the track and field competition saw Vietnam winning five of the eight golds on offer.
Yet, their 14-gold, eight-silver and four-bronze haul was not enough to beat Thailand, as they clinched 15 golds, seven silvers, and 11 bronzes to top the athletics competition.
Singapore's boys' javelin silver medallist Wang Tingjia (59.76m) feels that taking part in his second ASG was a reminder to keep working hard.
He said: "Taking part in the ASG makes me more comfortable with competing against fellow athletes in the region. (But) I know I will have to continue to work harder because no matter how good I am, there is a high chance that some other competitor will be better."