Athletics: NTU student Justyn Phoa, 21, breaks 32-year-old national javelin record

Justyn Phoa (second from left) broke the record with his effort of 61.07m. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM SINGAPORE ATHLETICS/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - In his first competition back after two years, Justyn Phoa wasted no time at the Singapore Athletics (SA) Performance Trial 1 on Sunday (Nov 29) as he broke the national men's javelin record with his effort of 61.07m.

His throw at the Home of Athletics at Kallang eclipsed Ng Bock Huat's 32-year-old record of 59.22m.

The 21-year-old national thrower said: "I didn't expect that throw to break the record, but it was a pleasant surprise.

"It (breaking the record) was definitely on my mind, but it's always very different thinking about it versus achieving it."

In the same meet, the national Under-20 record was also rewritten by Roy Ng, 17, with his throw of 57.19m erasing the previous mark of 56.44m set by Wang Tingjia in 2018.

The SA Performance Trial 1, SA's first meet since the circuit breaker, is an invitational event to provide tiered and top-eight ranked athletes with competition opportunities.

Phoa had aimed to break the national record by the end of this year, but thought that it would take longer because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted his training programme for a few months. During the circuit breaker and Phase 1 of the reopening of Singapore's economy, which lasted from April to mid-June, he was restricted to doing only body weight exercises.

The Nanyang Technological University student believes that training under national throws coach Akid Chong since the start of the year is what made all the difference for him on Sunday. Under Chong, he has had a structured training programme to follow, unlike in 2018, when he was training by himself after enlisting into national service.

"In 2018, I was just doing any exercises that I felt like doing on the day itself," said Phoa, who in 2017 broke a 47-year-old Schools A Division boys' record with his 59.06m effort.

"But now, Akid splits the training cycles into different phases like strength and speed so as to properly taper for the competition."

While Phoa had been throwing distances of about 54m to 56m in training, he had been working on his technique, which Chong feels he finally got right on Sunday. This time round, he managed to maintain the upright posture in the power position after his penultimate step, resulting in his best throw yet.

Chong, 30, believes Phoa can eventually throw past 70m, a target that they are trying to work towards by next year's SEA Games in Vietnam.

The bronze-medal distance - which is the benchmark for qualifying - for last year's Games in the Philippines was 70.88m, while gold medallist Melvin Calano threw 72.86m.

"We are planing to take some time to train and are not rushing anything. We want to take it slow and cover our ground properly," said Chong. "If we are continuing to train as how it is from this period, I think there is a good chance that we can hit that (competing at the 2021 SEA Games)."

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