Leading a race was a novel concept.

Winning gold and bagging a massive PB was the cherry on top. Even then, Nedunchezian Selvageethan, Selva for short, felt that he had room to improve.

“(Running from the front is) kinda new,” said Selva. He led the entire race to win the ‘A’ Division Boys 800m crown in a PB of 1 minute, 59.44 seconds, three seconds ahead of his closest competitor.

The plan for Monday morning was to start fast, hold on to the pace and make sure no one overtook him on the home stretch. A bold plan for someone whose best finish in the event was fourth the previous year.

Selva drew courage to stick to the race plan based on an increase in fitness he attributed to a stronger aerobic base. 20-minute easy runs during study breaks and longer long runs were just some of the building blocks for Selva as he gradually progressed in the sport.

To prepare for the front running plan, Selva would start fast in training to activate the lactic in his legs, then grit his teeth and run through the discomfort. His opening lap in the 800m final was 58s, giving him a comfortable cushion between him and the rest. Selva’s lead was never threatened the rest of the way.

While Selva streaked to victory in the home stretch, drama ensued in his wake. Harpreet Singh, who was in the mix for top four, collapsed to the ground, overcome by fatigue. One hurdled over his arm and lost momentum; others swung wide in their final dash to capitalize on the podium reshuffle.

Nedunchezian Selvageethan leads the race in the ‘A’ Division Boys 800m. His front running rewarded him with his first national schools title. (Romaine Soh)

Like many of his peers, Selva was more interested in soccer, but the school didn’t offer the sport as an extracurricular until the JC division.

When he clocked a decent timing in the 1.6km trial, his teacher, Mr Vincent Quek, scouted him to join the team. Selva, knowing nothing about running as a competitive sport, wasn’t interested at first.

Mr Quek pointed out to Selva that there were a number of teammates just like him. They didn’t know much about running at first, but proceeded to perform at nationals within a few seasons.

“Sure,” thought Selva, and accepted Mr Quek’s offer.

Six years later, Selva is a national schools champion.

The biggest challenge in his journey to becoming a national schools champion? Getting into the winner’s mindset.

Said Selva, “If you want to win, you really have to have a different mindset. Tell yourself, ok, I’m gonna win. Have confidence in yourself. Then push.

Follow Selva’s breakthrough season as he toes the line in the ‘A’ Division 1500m on Friday afternoon at the Sports Hub. Or watch the live stream on SG Sports TV’s Facebook page.

2019 National Schools Track and Field ‘A’ Division Boys 800m Final:

  1. Nedunchezian Selvageethan (RI) – 1:59.44
  2. Chua Jia Wei (HCI) – 2:02.98
  3. Ng Jing Heng (YIJC) – 2:04.41
  4. Kauthar Ahmed Basharahil (NJC) – 2:05.20
  5. Dave Tung Kin Pang (HCI) – 2:05.55
  6. Zechariah Low (SAJC) – 2:05.74
  7. Brian Tong Kok Jun (SAJC) – 2:07.20
  8. Amir Rusyaidi Osman (ACS(I)) – 2:08.36
  9. Durvasula Satya Sai Vasanth (ACJC) – 2:09.59
  10. Azzamudin Khairi B Mohamad G (JPJC) – 2:14.10
  11. Tng Wen Xu Abel (RI) – 2:14.92
  12. Rubenesh Kumar S/O Sukumar (ACS(I)) – 2:15.11
  13. Alexander Liswandy (DHS) – 2:15.63
  14. Jiang Tianjian (HCI) – 2:16.59
  15. Cao Chuhao (EJC) – 2:18.12
  16. Harpreet Singh (ACS(I)) – 2:20.58

Chua Jia Wei pumps his hand as he crosses the line in second with a time of 2:02.98. (Romaine Soh)

Missed our ‘A’ Division Girls 800m story? This is how Phoebe Tay went from hospital patient to 800m champion within three months.