SINGAPORE - Despite battling a high fever and back injury, high jumper Kampton Kam insisted on competing in the Schools National A Division athletics championships last March.
The Victoria Junior College student said: "I wanted to fight for my school and I didn't want to let my ailments affect me. Regardless of the result, I wanted to compete and know that I did my best."
His tenacity paid off as he not only won the title but also set a personal best (PB) of 2.02m (from 1.96m). A week later, still ill, he struck gold at the South-east Asia Youth Athletics Championships in Bangkok.
The 17-year-old set two more PBs - 2.03m in June and 2.05m in July - before claiming the gold at July's Asean School Games (ASG) in Kuala Lumpur where he set a national Under-18 and U-20 record of 2.10m.
His achievements have earned Kampton, who also finished seventh at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October, a shot at The Straits Times' Young Athlete of the Year award.
He said the nomination has inspired him to do better in the National School Games (NSG) and other competitions, including the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in April and July's ASG in Semarang, Indonesia, where he hopes to break the Games record of 2.13m set by Malaysia's Nauraj Singh Randhawa in 2010.
While Kampton has high hopes, fellow nominee and hockey player Sean See prefers a more relaxed approach.
"Hockey is more of a leisure activity for me. I want to play it for fun instead of training so hard," said the 16-year-old who plays for the Singapore Khalsa Association team.
The former St Andrew's Secondary hockey captain has been nominated for his act of sportsmanship in the Schools National B Division boys' bronze-medal match.
When play resumed after Northland Secondary's Muhammad Raihan Adris sprained his ankle, the Saints threw the ball to the other side of the pitch for Northland to start. But miscommunication saw one of the Saints forwards taking the ball and scoring to put his team 2-1 up.
After a discussion with his coach, Sean requested the umpire to rule out the goal. The game ended 1-1 and, in the penalty shoot-out, Northland won 4-3.
Sean was surprised by his nomination, and said of his act: "I thought it was nothing."
Another person who was surprised by his nomination is former Bukit Merah Secondary floorballer John Alicante Embile.
"I didn't expect to be recognised. Through this, I'm more motivated to break barriers," said the 17-year-old, who scored the only successful penalty in a shoot-out in the Schools National B Division final against Catholic High School.
John, who had never taken a penalty before, hopes his story can inspire other athletes to achieve their goals.
"I hope it can bring out the fire in every athlete out there, especially those who doubt themselves," he said.
"Taking big steps towards your passion requires courage and I hope this serves as their fuel to successfully reach their goals."
The other nominees are Queensway Secondary footballer Putri Nur Syaliza and the Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) C Division table tennis team.