It was a see-saw battle but, in the end, Raffles Institution (RI) successfully defended their A Division Boys' judo title at the National Inter-school Team Championships yesterday, despite being down 1-2 after the third bout.
But they drew level and eventually won 3-2 and, in the process, prevented their opponents, Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) - who had made history by entering the final for the first time - from getting a fairy-tale finish.
Amid deafening cheers from both sets of supporters at Hougang Secondary School, NYJC were behind 0-1 initially before winning the next two bouts to lead 2-1, only to see favourites RI - who have contested the final for more than 20 years with Hwa Chong Institution - fight back to parity.
Ryan Chong won the crucial fifth bout when he overcame Benson Kwa.
Ryan said of the decisive showdown: "Even though I could feel the pressure, I knew that I had my team-mates behind me whatever the outcome may be."
RI captain Yong Kang Ren admitted that he "was quite worried but believed in his team-mate".
While there was no fairy-tale ending, Wesley Kam, 18, who had won his bout for NYJC, was satisfied with the progress made by the team.
"It is always good to make history," he said of NYJC's campaign this year, which included beating HCI.
While the teachers from NYJC were proud of the team's breakthrough, Eng Han Seng, dean of CCA and PE at RI, said their team had not become complacent despite not having to meet traditional foes HCI in the final.
They had continued to train hard three times a week, he added.
But it is not the end of the road for Wesley, as he and some of his team-mates will have another shot at glory when they compete in the individual events next week.
National Inter-school Judo Team Championships Finals:
A Division Boys
Raffles Institution 3 Nanyang Junior College 2
A Division Girls
Raffles Institution 4 Hwa Chong Institution 1
B Division Boys
Raffles Institution 3 St Joseph's Institution 2
B Division Girls
Raffles Girls' School 3 Nanyang Girls' High School 2
C Division Boys
Hwa Chong Institution 4 Raffles Institution 1
C Division Girls
Raffles Girls' School 4 Hougang Secondary School 1
This article was first published on April 2, 2015.
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