Two 'veterans' reminisce

SINGAPORE - They enjoyed success during their time in school, making their mark as athletes in their respective disciplines.

As the schools sports scene prepares for another exciting year ahead - the 2014 National School Games kicked off last month - it's no surprise Dipna Lim-Prasad and Naresh Kunasegaran still feel the excitement.

Dipna has made headlines in recent years after breaking the national record in the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles.

A product of the Singapore Sports School, she ran the 100m hurdles at the 2012 Olympics in London.

She won the national schools' 400m gold in Sec 3 and 4, breaking the records on both occasions.

She also won gold in the 400m hurdles in Sec 4, also rewriting the schools' record in that event.

Recalling the excitement of her days in school, Dipna said: "When they held the sprints in the National Stadium before it was torn down, the atmosphere was insane.

"No other local meet could compete with that kind of energy.

"When the track and field championships was moved to Choa Chu Kang Stadium, obviously the grandeur wasn't there, but the atmosphere never changed.

UNIQUE

"Such excitement is just unique with the schools championships."

Naresh, 20, is studying at the Singapore Polytechnic.

He played rugby for St Andrew's Secondary right through the ranks, becoming captain in 2011.

He was part of the team that finished second from Sec 1 to 5.

He says the school contests were the starting points for Singapore to discover talent.

"You can always see a number of the Singapore Rugby Union scouts around for training and matches, and that's usually where they get their players from," he told The New Paper.

"Some may get noticed earlier, but late-bloomers would eventually get a chance to be scouted when they reach the A and B divisions."

He rates his experience playing schools rugby as the highlight of his time at St Andrew's.

"Being part of a sporting team is already a pretty big deal for a 15 or 16-year-old student-athletes, but when you add the tradition that St Andrews has for rugby, it becomes even more special."

This year's National School Games will run until September.

Both Dipna and Naresh believe many of the student-athletes who will do battle to bring glory to their respective schools are in for a thrilling ride.

Added Naresh: "When crowds start shouting and chanting your name during matches, you feel a bit of pressure. "But a final can attract hundreds of people, from parents to teachers to school friends, so it's quite crazy."

redzwank@sph.com.sg


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