By Leonard Lim
HE WAS not even born in 1982, when Ng Yee Ming wrote his name into the record books as Singapore’s best long jumper.
But Kenneth Wang Kan can now lay claim to that title, after breaking the country’s longest-standing jumps record yesterday afternoon.
Wang soared 7.41 metres on his third attempt at the Singapore Athletic Association 3rd All-Comers’ Meet, bettering Ng’s 26-year-old mark by 7cm.
Overcome with emotion, a jubilant Wang jumped for joy at the Gombak Stadium sandpit, and was walking with a spring in his step hours later as he was about to head home.
“I’ve been trying to break the record for the past three years. Today, it has finally happened,” said Wang, a 21-year-old national serviceman. Alvin Lin was second with a distance of 6.78m.
Added Wang: “I’ve come very close, within a few centimetres, several times this year. So this is a big relief.”
His focus on breaching Ng’s record began in 2005, after he set a national junior mark. His leap of 7.12m made him the first local long jumper to cross the 7m mark in over a decade, and served notice of his potential.
Said Wang: “My next target is to hit 7.5m, and then qualify for next year’s South-east Asia Games.” His coach Valeri Obidko has bigger plans for the former Raffles Junior College student. I think he can jump 7.6m by the end of this year,” said the Russian.
With 7.48m as the bronze-medal distance at last December’s SEA Games, Wang could well be one of Singapore athletics’ medal hopes in next year’s edition in Laos.
That would be a remarkable journey for the 1.84m, 71kg athlete, whose entry into the sport as a Primary Five pupil at Catholic High was almost by accident. “My mother thought I was spending too much time on computer games, and nagged me to go out and play some sports,” he said.
“She was a former long jump star and a coach at the Shanghai Sports School, so I decided to try it out.”….
…Despite starting with a woeful 6.66m effort, he bounced back to leap 7.31m on his second attempt, before setting the record on the next jump.
Wang’s accomplishment completed a successful weekend for Singapore’s jumpers. Yesterday, triple jump specialist Mariam Shazana re-wrote her own national record by 3cm with an 11.66m effort at the Pahang Open. That distance was good enough to earn the Sports School student the Junior (U-20) crown in Kuantan.
On Saturday, triple jumper Stefan Tseng’s 15.7m leap bettered his national record by a centimetre and won him the Open crown.