School sports: VJC high jumper Kampton Kam sets U-20 national record en route to winning A Division boys' title

Kampton Kam, who competed despite carrying a back injury and experiencing discomfort in his right knee, said he had been nervous before the competition.
Kampton Kam, who competed despite carrying a back injury and experiencing discomfort in his right knee, said he had been nervous before the competition.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - The songs played during the Schools National A Division boys' high jump final on Friday (March 29) transported Kampton Kam to last year's Asean School Games (ASG), where he broke the national Under-20 record in the event.

Those "good memories" helped to spur the Victoria Junior College student to gold and an Under-20 record of 2.15m at the National Stadium, improving on his previous best of 2.10m.

"There were a few songs that were played during the ASG last year when I broke the record... I was thinking if I could clear (the height) then, I should be able to clear it now, and I had those positive thoughts," said the 18-year-old, whose result also bettered his own Schools National record (2.10m last year) and Wong Yew Tong's 1989 championships record of 2.06m.

Hwa Chong Institution's Hansel Loh was second (1.95m) and Raffles Institution's Jonathan Pua (1.93m) was third.

Kampton, who competed despite carrying a back injury and experiencing discomfort in his right knee, said he had been nervous before the competition.

"I came (to the National Stadium) two days ago to train and it wasn't very good, so I was a bit discouraged and kind of worried," he said.

"When I cleared 2.10m, I was quite steady because it's my PB, then at 2.13m, it was a challenge - I was uncertain as I've never done it in training before, and (when I cleared) 2.15m... I couldn't describe it, it's just amazing."

He believes the difference on Friday was the atmosphere at the stadium, where the crowd roared each time he cleared a new height.

 
 
 
 

"The most significant part is being able to clear it in front of such a grand stage on the final day at the Sports Hub, with everyone here - my school, my parents, my coach," said Kampton.

Friday's feat ranks him second on the all-time list in Singapore, and the teenager now has set his sights on breaking Wong's national record of 2.22m from the 1995 SEA Games.

He is also three centimetres away from this year's SEA Games qualifying mark of 2.18m, pegged to the third-placing mark from the 2017 SEA Games.

Kampton is aiming to bridge that gap, saying: "I definitely have to work on my technique, with the arching (of his back) and my run-up has to be consistent."

Explaining that he regained his confidence after warming up on Friday, he added: "My coach told me everything was looking good - the run-up wasn't shaky like on Wednesday.

"I was quite focused, but I was still enjoying the atmosphere, like the songs they were playing and talking to my friends."

Another athlete whose focus brought victory on Friday was Elizabeth Tan of Nanyang Girls' High School. Her 12.25sec effort in the B Division girls' 100m final lowered the Schools National record (12.35sec by Ismi Zakiah last year) and the championships record (12.37sec by Bernice Liew last year).

The 15-year-old was runner-up in the event last year, and she also anchored her teams to gold in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays on Friday.

She said: "I'm very happy because my previous PB was 12.40sec. This year, my focus was a lot better, and I managed to calm my nerves and not get too anxious. I just kept visualising my race."

Overall champions

A Division

Boys: Hwa Chong Institution

Girls: Hwa Chong Institution

B Division

Boys: Hwa Chong Institution

Girls: Cedar Girls' School

C Division

Boys: Hwa Chong Institution

Girls: Cedar Girls' School