H1N1 test result wait dashes his dream

H1N1 test result wait dashes his dream

By Veena Bharwani

July 03, 2009 Print Ready Email Article

FOR the past two months, all Zachary Ryan Devaraj could think of was the Asian Youth Games (AYG).

Click to see larger image
RUNNER: Zachary was part of the ACS (Independent) 4x800m relay team that won the SPH Schools Relay Championships Boys’ B Division. ST FILE PICTURE

The 14-year-old was confident of doing well in his pet event, the 800m.

But his dreams were dashed when he missed the heats at Bishan Stadium yesterday afternoon after he had to wait for his Influenza A(H1N1) test result.

He had to stay in isolation at the Games Village until the results were known and though he tested negative, the results came too late.

However, a spokesman for the Games said that the doctors advised him to rest as he had flu-like symptoms (see report right).

It all started when Zachary, who finished sixth in the 1500m final on Tuesday, was quarantined at the Swissotel the Stamford (the Games village) the same night. He said he felt ‘under the weather’ and had a runny nose but had no fever.

He said: ‘I wanted to check that I was not infringing doping regulations if I take a Panadol.’

This triggered alarm bells. His swab was taken at 10pm on Tuesday, but he said a second swab was taken yesterday morning.

He was cleared only at 4.40pm yesterday but by the time he rushed to Bishan stadium, he was too late. The heats, which started at 4.45pm went on without him.

What Zachary is most upset about is that he would have probably qualified for tomorrow’s semi-finals.

He had set a personal best time of 2min 1.04sec in the 800m at the Western Australia Little Athletics (Wala) track-and-field meet in Kuala Lumpur last weekend.

The six competitors who qualified for the 800 metres semi-finals clocked between 1min 59.30 sec and 2min 4.01 sec.

Said Zachary: ‘I’m really angry. This is my pet race and I wasn’t allowed to compete. This is all I’ve been training for. This was my dream.’

Since May, he has been working hard for the event. He said: ‘When I found out I would be competing in the AYG, every thing stopped and I focused on this race.’

He intensified training.

Said Zachary, a Secondary 3 student at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent): ‘I have been training six days a week and I’ve put everything I have into this particular race.’

He said he trained between three to five hours a day. He even had to watch his diet and take additional supplements.


Running is everything to the boy and his parents put that first always – even at the expense of their own business.

His father, Mr Simon Devaraj, 45, and mother, Mrs Devaraj, 40, run an employment agency. Said Mr Devaraj: ‘We are always there to drop him off at school and pick him up after that to send him for training.’

He added: ‘Why are they so unfair to my son? Where is their Olympic spirit? Like our minister says, life has to go on with H1N1. They just crushed his dreams.’

Mrs Devaraj added: ‘My husband and I left work behind last weekend to fly to KL with him for the meet.

‘He had sinus issues in KL as well and took a Panadol. He’s had such issues for years. They didn’t quarantine him there.’

She added: ‘We ensured he flew back on Sunday so that he had enough time to rest for the AYG. We take his health very seriously.

‘He’s given up on other pleasures. He has invested a lot of time into this. Day in day out, we see him train to achieve his dream.’



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