By Ho Shao Hsien
She may have been excluded from the provisional athletics squad for the Youth Olympics for not meeting the qualifying standard for the discus.
However, Chan Zhi Xuan's stunning record-breaking performance in the Schools National Track and Field Championships' B Girls' discus final suggests that the 16-year-old Cedar Girls' Secondary School student is well placed to become the next Wan Lay Chi.
Wan, 21, is currently Singapore's brightest discus prospect with a personal best of 47.74m. She finished fourth at last year's SEA Games with 46.09m.
Wan also held the B Girls' meet record and the Schools National mark of 37.25m for six years - that is, until Zhi Xuan hurled 37.94m on April 14, the last day of the schools championships to obliterate it. (A schools national record is the best mark across the A, B and C Divisions and can be achieved at a local or international schools meet).
Zhi Xuan's distance is a stunning five metres-plus farther than the 32.19m she threw at last year's schools championships to win the gold. It is also 3.7m longer than the bronze-medal distance at the 2008 South-east Asia Junior Championships.
Zhi Xuan declined to be interviewed but Joseph Tan, who is Cedar's head of Physical Education (PE) and Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) said this of his student's talent: 'She can lose only to herself.'
He also believes Zhi Xuan can breach the 40m mark soon.
'She can definitely record distances of 40m and above in the next one or two years if she stabilises her rotation technique,' he said.
'But we need to take it a step at a time. To move towards it, support from various parties - the school, her parents, the national association and the Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) - must come in.'
There is also the issue of her studies.
Zhi Xuan will be taking her O levels this year and as such, may give July's Asean School Games, an annual Under-18 meet, in Kuala Lumpur a miss.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.