05 March 18 The Straits Times by MUHAMMAD SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ
The Singapore Sports School (SSP) wrested back the SPH Schools Relay Championships overall crown from Raffles Institution (RI) yesterday. And they did it in some style, sending two meet records tumbling at the Bishan Stadium.
First, SSP's A Division girls' 4x100m quartet of Tia Rozario, Diane Pragasam, Palada Tang and Ismi Zakiah set a new record of 49.23sec, bettering the previous mark of 49.30sec set by National Junior College in 2005.
The SSP girls finished ahead of Hwa Chong Institution (51.40sec) and Anglo Chinese Junior College (53.27sec).
Then, the school's B Division boys' 4x400m team of Samel Chetan, Brandon Norton, Haziq Yazli and Reuben Lee sliced almost 1.50sec off the 3min 29.35sec mark set by Anglo Chinese School (Independent) in 2010.
Their 3:28.94 effort placed them ahead of RI (3:45.90) and Woodlands Secondary School (3:57.38).
The performance of the two relay teams went some way to helping SSP top the standings of the two-day meet, with 133 points.
RI, who last year snapped SSP's six-year run as overall winners of the SPH Schools Relay Championships, finished second with 99 points. ACS(I) were third with 67 points.
I was not expecting the (record). I just wanted them to push themselves.
HUANG WEN LIN, SSP girls' relay coach, on her charges setting a new record in the 4x100m event.
What made the SSP girls' effort more remarkable was the fact that they had begun training for relays only two weeks ago.
Team anchor Ismi said: "This is only our second time in a full race together. So our aim was just to have a smooth run."
The quartet's coach, Huang Wen Lin, added: "I was not expecting the (record). I just wanted them to push themselves."
For their outstanding performance, the 4x100m quartet were awarded the Tay Cheng Khoon Memorial Trophy.
The award is named after the former sports editor of The Straits Times. The last winners of the trophy were SSP's 4x100m C Division boys' quartet in 2016, after they broke Hwa Chong Institution's eight-year-old record. There was no winner last year.
SSP head coach Pedro Cunha also praised the B Division boys' 4x400m quartet, saying: "This team have been working together since they were in Secondary One (two years ago), and it was their target to break the existing record.
"They all showed amazing teamwork and I am happy for them."
Jenny Lim, general manager of SSP's track and field academy, added: "In relays, a lot depends on teamwork, and how well they can bond considering a lot of them are from different training groups. The kids did well."
Now into its 26th year, the 2018 SPH Schools Relay Championships featured a total of 289 teams from 35 schools.