SINGAPORE - Their fourth successive overall champion trophy was already in the bag.
But sprinters from the Singapore Sports School were still hoping for a bonus - a meet record at the Singapore Press Holdings Schools Relay Championships.
It almost came from an unlikely source. Formed only a month ago, the quartet of Jay Choo, Muhammad Nur Haqim, Joel Ho and Muhammad Syazani surprised even themselves when they clocked 43.57sec at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, 0.23 of a second shy of the competition record set by Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) in 2010.
Raffles Institution came in second (44.44) while Victoria School were third (45.61).
Said Muhammad Nur Haqim, 15, the third runner in the team: "We have only been training together for such a short time so we did not expect to finish so close to breaking the record."
Their coach, Remy Gan, was also proud of his charges' performance, which bettered their seniors' showing in the same event last year.
Gan, 37, said: "Hopefully, they can now build on this performance and go further."
Records aside, the win also helped SSP chalk up an overall 100 points, which won them the overall challenge trophy in this year's competition.
Their overall championship title is their fourth successive triumph, and their ninth crown over the last 12 tournaments.
The SSP bagged this year's B boys and the C boys division titles as well.
Boasting a track record like this serves only to motivate opponents to raise their game against powerhouses SSP.
And that was what Nanyang Girls' High School's Arissa Rashid did, in the process inflicting a defeat on the SSP in the 4x400m C girls relay event.
The anchor runner, 14, overtook a tiring Iman Fandi - who received medical attention after experiencing breathing difficulties after the race - in the final lap to seal a surprise victory for her school.
"I saw an opportunity to go past her near the third bend so I just went for it," said Arissa.
"It's an overwhelming victory for us because our coach had told us to do our best and finish second behind the Singapore Sports School."
Nanyang also won the B girls division title.
The two-day relay event, now into its 22nd edition, featured teams from 32 schools competing in three different divisions for both boys and girls.
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