4 student-athletes clear path to bowling competition after fallen tree blocks their way

SINGAPORE - Four student-athletes on their way to a national bowling competition had to first overcome a fallen tree that blocked the road to their destination.

The four teenagers from the Singapore Sports School - 18-year-old James Lowe and 16-year-olds Aidan Poh, Jarred Lim and Oh Han Qin - were on their way to the Temasek Club for the National Schools Bowling Championships "A" Division Boys' Doubles event last Wednesday (April 19).

However, when their bus got to Rifle Range Road, they found it impassable, blocked by a large tree that was about 3m wide and covered two lanes.

The boys were 200m away from their destination, and had just half an hour left to reach risk being disqualified, said the Singapore Sports School in a Facebook post on Tuesday (April 25).

Other members of the public were also stranded as no vehicle or person could get past the fallen tree.

A policeman told them the National Parks Board had been notified and was on the way.

However, Jarred suggested to his teammates that they try to create an opening.

The four of them then snapped the smaller branches and tucked the bigger branches that they could not break over and under other branches to create room for at least one person to pass through.

After about 20 minutes, the four student athletes and their accompanying coach managed to get past.

Left to right: Oh Han Qin, Aidan Poh, Jarred Lim and James Lowe. PHOTO: AIDAN POH

The boys snagged prizes in the competition later, with Aidan and Jarred winning the gold medal with a total of 2,458 pinfalls. Han Qin and James came in sixth - just 39 pins from the bronze medal team.

The Straits Times spoke to the four boys on Tuesday. Aidan said he felt overcoming the obstacles on their way to the competition venue "kind of gave us the confidence to bowl better as we felt that nothing could stand in our way".

Jarred said the boys did not have tools to cut through the trees.

"The four of us decided to clear the way and make it easier for people to pass through by stepping on and breaking some branches as well clearing some twigs," Aidan added. "We took around 20 minutes before we passed through."

Jarred said the task was " kind of difficult at first as the branches were rather heavy and scattered".

He said: "For example, even James (the oldest student-athlete there) could not remove a branch using his own strength."

Han Qin added that the Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) programmes that the school sent them for from Secondary One to Three helped them.

"I believe that these experiences have taught us skills that have helped us deal with this situation," he said.

James quipped: "I'm just glad the public could also go through after that and that we reached our competition venue in time."

NParks officers later arrived and cleared the tree.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared the story on his Facebook page on Tuesday night, and commenters praised the boys for a job well done.

Asked how they felt about the prime minister praising them, the boys said they were touched and happy, but did not think of their act as extraordinary.

Han Qin said they were surprised when they realised PM Lee and  Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu had shared the video on their Facebook pages.

"We looked at each other in disbelief, then burst out laughing out of sheer happiness," he said. "We wondered out loud – what did we do to deserve so much positive publicity? We only did what we had to do."

James added that he did not feel clearing a path was an extraordinary act, but instead a logical thing to do.

However, he added that getting pats on the shoulders really boosted their morale, as they were in the middle of competitions.

Aidan said he was touched by the recognition, while Jarred said: "We have been made to look like heroes but really, we didn't think of any recognition at all when we decided to clear a path to go to the other side." 

He added that the boys were "encouraged by the many positive comments made" and will be more aware of how small deeds can be important to the community.

"If we see anything else that needs to be done and it is within our means, we will not hesitate to do it," said Jarred.