SINGAPORE – For two consecutive years, national high jumper Kampton Kam has missed the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore. But while his family ushers in the year of the Dragon back home without him, Kam is not complaining.
Why would he, when the festive period has become an auspicious time for him in the United States.
On the first day of the Lunar New Year on Feb 10, Kam leapt 2.20m at the Liberty-Indoor Track Complex during the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational to better his previous indoor high jump national mark by 5cm.
This result comes just two weeks after Kam cleared 2.15m at the Penn State University Multi-Sport Facility on Jan 27.
It marked a festive deja-vu as in January 2023, also coincidentally on the first day of Chinese New Year, Kam had set a national record at that time when he jumped 2.08m at the Wesley A. Brown Invitational.
Kam, 22, is a sophomore student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He said: “It’s been two years in a row where I have not been able to celebrate the New Year with my family. But I did have a call with my family as they were heading out for visiting on the second day and we wished each other.
“Sacrifices have to be made and growing up, my dad who is a pilot missed several Christmas, Chinese New Year and birthday celebrations. This what we have to do in life if we have a goal we want to meet, and my goal is to perform at the highest level and continue to push my limits.”
His latest jump is a boost ahead of the National Collegiate Athletic Association indoor track and field championships in March. To qualify, he needs to be among the top 16 in the rankings for indoor high jumpers. The 2.20m effort currently puts him in ninth place.
Kam is also chasing his school’s indoor and outdoor records, which are 2.24m and 2.28m respectively, and has set a lofty target of qualifying for the Paris Olympics.
He has an outdoor personal best of 2.20m set in April 2022 but will need to meet the qualifying height of 2.33m or finish among the top 32 in the world rankings by June to earn a ticket to the Summer Games.
Kam said: “I’m still not in my best form. Because I have made a lot of changes (he has been working on a 10-step run-up for his jumps, as compared to an eight-step approach before) and I am still adapting.
“It is also not the easiest ...