Cross country is about individuals but it was a team effort from the Raffles Institution (RI) runners that enabled the school to record a first-ever clean sweep of A, B and C Division boys' team titles, as well as the A Division girls' title at Tuesday morning's National Schools Cross Country Championships.
A case in point was evident when the RI girls' squad ran together as a group for over half of the 4.3km route along Bedok Reservoir Park. The team eventually posted six top-20 finishers out of 120 competitors.
"It helps to push you on, when you follow someone's lead," said RI team captain Mary-Lisa Chua.
Following the group's pace, the 18-year-old made a final burst to finish first in 14min 21.2sec.
RI's B and C Division captain Tan Chong Qi, 15, added: "While the execution is done by the individual, every point matters. Each contribution is extremely important in order to win the team event."
For Raffles, the victory is sweet after the school narrowly missed a clean sweep of four titles in the previous two years.
Chong Qi said: "We followed our usual thrice-a-week schedule. The team was more focused and determined, probably due to the team culture and interaction with the A Division seniors who constantly encouraged and motivated us to do our best."
In addition, RI's 17-year-old Shohib Abdul Wahab Marican made a stunning A Division debut as the fastest boy yesterday. He finished the 5km course in 14min 2.8sec.
Victoria Junior College and Hwa Chong Institution finished second and third respectively for both the boys' and girls' sections in the A Division.
Boys: Shohib Abdul Wahab Marican (Raffles Institution). Team: RI. Girls: Mary-Lisa Chua (RI) 14:21.2. Team: RI.
Boys: Tan Chong Qi (RI). Team: RI. Girls: Natalie Soh (Paya Lebar Methodist Girls', Secondary). Team: River Valley High.
Boys: Er Wen Han (Hwa Chong Institution). Team: RI. Girls: Elaine Quah (Raffles Girls). Team: Cedar Girls'.
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