Singapore Sports School (SSP) hurdler Chong Wei Guan had many reasons to celebrate - three to be exact - on the fifth day of the schools' track and field championships yesterday.
Not only did he retain the A Division boys' 110m hurdles title in style at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, his 14.13sec effort also broke the Under-20 national junior record which had stood for 13 years.
He also met the 14.20 qualifying time for both the Asian (June 7-10, Japan) and world junior championships (July 10-15, Finland).
"It feels good to run (14.13)," said Wei Guan, 17, who has been eyeing since last year the 14.17 that Abdul Hakeem Abdul Halim set in 2005.
"I've been aiming to qualify for the world and Asian juniors since the start of the year, so it feels very good to finally hit the mark.
"I didn't go into this race with the mentality of winning it. It was all about getting the timing. So I was looking at the clock - 12 seconds, 13 - and just dived at the end to get it."
He finished way ahead of Gerard Emmanuel Loh Kai-Jyn of Hwa Chong Institution (16.33) and Raffles Institution's Shaun Hin Fei (16.76). By the time he crossed the finish line, the chasing pack were still clearing their final hurdle.
He credited his record-breaking feat to hard work put in with his coach, Pedro Cunha. "I ran 14.4 last year, so to go to 14.1 now is a step up, a really big improvement. He's helped me get there," he said.
In the A girls' 100m hurdles, SSP's Tia Louise Rozario retained her crown with a 15.17 run, ahead of Hwa Chong's Tan Jing Wei (15.52) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College's Emma Tan Yen Rui (16.48).
What made 17-year-old's win remarkable was that she had returned to hurdles training only about two weeks ago because of injury.
She developed shin splints in the middle of last year, which restricted her training to only sprinting. Hurdling requires landing from height, which puts more impact on the legs.
"I counted on my experience and made sure I did not doubt myself just because I had less training," she said. "I told myself I've done it (won) before and that got me through today because it was a tough first half of the race."
Anderson Secondary School's Marc Brian Louis also retained his B Division boys' 110m hurdles title with a 14.49 effort, ahead of Matz Chan of RI (15.16) and Jerome Toh Weiheng of Victoria School (15.72).