SINGAPORE - It was almost the perfect day on Tuesday (April 16) for the Singapore Sports School (SSP) at the National Schools Games badminton finals and a slight blemish did little to ruin the party for the defending champions.
Of the 20 matches played across the boys and girls B and C Division categories, SSP won 19 in a show of their dominance.
They posted 5-0 wins in both B Division finals against Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Raffles Girls School (Secondary) and beat Raffles Institution by the same margin in the C Division boys final.
Even though he knew he and his team-mates had prepared well, SSP's B Division boys captain Lim Ming Hong, 17, said he was still nervous about keeping up the winning streak.
"Last year we also brought home the four divisional titles (winning 17 of the 20 matches in the final) so there was a lot of pressure on us to do the same this year but I was also confident because we all trained very hard," said the Secondary Five student.
He set the tone by beating ACS (I)'s Basile Koh in the opening singles match.
The best-of-five format for the finals alternates between singles and doubles.
While SSP had an unassailable 3-0 lead and had secured the B Division boys title, ACS (I)'s Jacob Tan,16, and Kendric Cheng, 15, were determined to put up some resistance in the second doubles clash against their opponents Marcus Tan, 16, and Nge Joo Jie, 15.
The SSP duo easily won the first game 21-7 but were pegged back in the second game. The score was tied at 20-20 and went back and forth until Marcus and Joo Jie eventually prevailed 26-24.
Marcus attributed the win to the support from the crowd at the Jurong East Sports Hall.
"During the crucial part towards the end, the supporters' support was extremely important. The voices cheering us on pushed us harder to fight on. We took their energy and converted it into the victory," said the Secondary Four student.
Despite the loss, Jacob was proud of the effort shown. He said: "The second game was very tiring but it's our last game because it's our last year in ACS (I) so we just tried our best to give them a good fight. When our match started we already lost but we just went in without any pressure and gave our best."
Nothing less than SSP's Rennie Yow's best was required in the B Division girls final. She was pushed very close by RGS' Ilisha Tanasekar, 15, in the second singles match but ultimately prevailed 21-17, 21-19.
It put SSP 3-0 up in the final and secured the championship. Rennie, 16, was understandably delighted and said: "There was definitely pressure but even though I was lagging behind in the second match, I never gave up hope.
"I felt like I was able to control myself and my emotions better today to help me clinch the win."
In the girls C Division final, SSP beat RGS 4-1 with the latter's Tan Li Ting and Chloe Chan pulling off an upset to beat the SSP pairing Amber Lim and Chloe Liew 21-14, 22-20.