SINGAPORE - A week before the National School Games (NSG), Raffles Institution javelin thrower Lucas Wong surprised himself by breaking the Under-20 national record with his 59.49m effort at the Singapore 47th National U-16/U-18/U-20 Athletics Championships.
While that feat was a confidence boost for the 17-year-old, it also gave him additional pressure to perform well at his last NSG.
Since October last year, he had been working on bringing down the schools national record of 59.76m set by Hwa Chong Institution's Wang Tingjia in 2017 and this was the last chance for the JC 2 student to do so.
To ease the pressure on himself, he began treating the competition as a training session instead. This worked a treat as he threw a 61.91m effort at Bukit Gombak Stadium on April 13 to eclipse the previous record by over two metres.
Lucas said: "Leading up to the competition, I had more pressure than before because I had broken the U-20 record. There was additional pressure to perform well, so I was relieved.
"It was not so much external influence, I think it was mostly what I wanted to achieve - I set a certain expectation and I wanted to break the record."
He attributed his fine form in recent competitions to a culmination of the work that he and his coach Chen Jinlong had been working on since training was allowed to resume last year amid the pandemic.
One thing they focused on was getting him to throw more with his chest and shoulder instead of just swinging his arm as fast as he could, which has helped him get more power in his throw.
Lucas' sporting endeavours now take a break so he can focus on his A levels at the end of the year but he still dreams of representing Singapore at the SEA Games one day. He acknowledged that there is still some way to go - the men's national record of 61.07m held by Justyn Phoa is some 10m off the qualifying mark for the SEA Games. At the 2019 Games, Vietnam's Nguyen Hoai Van threw 70.88m to win the bronze medal, which is the distance needed to qualify for the biennial competition.
But his recent performances have given Lucas hope that he is on the right track.
He said: "The qualifying mark is a long distance, but I will definitely work hard.
"These records and distances are just to show the training so far has been working. It just makes me know what I'm doing is okay."
Chen, who has been coaching Lucas since he was a student at Victoria School, hopes that the teenager will get the chance to continue progressing through opportunities such as foreign training stints and competitions.
He said: "I have seen Lucas from the age of 14 till now and he has demonstrated physical and mental growth through the years. I want him to represent Singapore in the SEA Games; it will be a big step to see any Singaporean qualify for the Games in the javelin."