Vanessa replaces Misha in top 10
VJC athlete gets second chance after Fengshan Primary netballer withdraws
For Vanessa Lee, being nominated for this year's The New Paper School Sports Star Award was already a big achievement.
She did not make it to the top five of the girls' category but, through a slice of luck, the Victoria Junior College is now back in the running for the award which honours the top student-athletes in Singapore.
Vanessa (above) was included in the top 10 - five boys and five girls - after Misha Nur Rasyana, who plays netball for Fengshan Primary School, withdrew from the running due to personal reasons.
The 17-year-old Vanessa is joined in the top five of the girls' category by her teammate Kristin Pang, Shaahidah Zulkifli (football, Bowen Secondary School), Ashley Han (volleyball, Dunman Secondary School), and Singapore Sports School runner Diane Hilary Pragasam.
The boys are represented by Haikal Ismail (athletics, Millennia Institute), Toh Wei Yu (athletics, Raffles Institution), Wong Han Xuan (shooting, National Junior College), Chong Koi Kiat (canoeing, National Junior College) and Brian Cheong (fencing, Singapore Sports School).
"I am quite happy to be in the final list; I am not expecting to win the award, I am really honoured just to be nominated," Vanessa said after she received a call from The New Paper informing her of her inclusion in the top 10.
"But, now that I am in the final five (of the girls' category), I am really getting excited about it (the award)."
She had no formal training in competitive running before she joined Victoria Junior College this year, having been in the string ensemble in secondary school.
But her raw talent and appetite for the sport shone through in the A Division 2,000m steeplechase final at the Schools Nationals in April.
She held a comfortable lead after clearing the first hurdle, but had to play catch-up after falling into the water after clearing the steeple.
Vanessa went on to win the race in a new national junior record and meet time of 8min 0.94sec.
She has had to put her running shoes aside in recent months due to the haze and preparations for her promotional exams, but returned recently to start training for the defence of her steeplechase crown next season.
"Oh my goodness, I can't describe in words how good that felt," said the 1.55m student-athlete.
"It was so good to feel the pains and the aches, the panting and the adrenalin rush.
"It was so good to be able to train and bond with my teammates, and not study.
"But I understood why I had to stop training for a while to focus on my exams.
"After all, I am a full-time student and a part-time athlete."
Visit tnp.sg/sss15 to vote for your favourite boys' and girls' finalists. Voting closes at 11.59pm on Wednesday.