He has four consecutive Schools National Judo Individual Championships heavyweight titles under his belt and Koh Hock Yang has achieved this even though his school, New Town Secondary, does not offer the sport as a Co-Curricular Activity.
The 15-year-old Secondary 4 student defeated Eu Chun Kang of St Joseph's Institution to successfully defend his title at Hougang Secondary School yesterday, despite having no sparring partners in school to train with.
His triumph yesterday completed a run of success that started in 2011, when he first enrolled in New Town.
"I train with an external club and the national team three times a week, but it is outside of curriculum time, so I am not disadvantaged in any way," the 15-year-old said.
Hock Yang's coach, Tang Soon Onn, a former SEA Games gold medallist, believes that more is to come from his protege, who is 1.7m and weighs 90.5kg.
"He is a gifted judoka with a lot of potential but he is still young with a lot to learn.
"The encouraging thing is that he works and has the correct attitude. After training, he would continue to do physical training and weights to further push himself."
Hock Yang paid tribute to his mentor, saying: "I have a great coach in Mr Tang, along with skilful seniors and fun team-mates who helped keep my interest in the sport. Encouragement from fellow judokas have helped too."
Having represented Singapore previously in tournaments such as the Hong Kong International Youth and Junior Judo Tournament in 2013, where he won a bronze, Hock Yang hopes to go a step further and "be part of the national squad to represent Singapore in international tournaments."
Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) emerged the big winners in the other categories, claiming 13 out of the 20 titles available across the A, B and C divisions.
It was also the school's first clean sweep of individual crowns in the boys' C Division.
They outperformed fellow powerhouses Raffles Institution (RI), who won four titles. The remaining three titles were claimed in the boys' B division by judokas from Bishan Park Secondary School (extra light), St Gabriel's Secondary School (middle) and New Town Secondary School (heavy).
Meanwhile, in the girls' B and C divisions, Nanyang Girls' High collected five medals while Raffles Girls' School (RGS) won four.
Bishan Park Secondary School's Chow Zi Ling prevented a shutout by winning the B division lightweight category.
This article was published on April 10 in The Straits Times.
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