Tuesday 21 August 2012

Amateurs, pros to join in fun at National Games

By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 19 Aug 2012

Mr Chye Tse King, 40, learnt the butterfly stroke six months ago and will be representing Sembawang in the Masters 100m fly swimming event at the Singapore National Games next month.

The Sembawang resident may find himself coming up against former national swimmer Desmond Koh, 39, a three-time Olympian and one-time national record holder for the 400m individual medley event.

Mr Koh will be swimming in the Masters men's 100m breaststroke and 100m butterfly categories for the Moulmein-Kallang cluster.

Registration has closed, but anyone can take part in the inaugural games designed to foster friendship between different communities, whether you are a recreational sportsman, or a national athlete.

Quotas limiting ethnicity, age, and estate backgrounds have been set to ensure a fair mix of participants.

"It does seem like a case of a small kid running against big boys. Of course I don't stand a chance, but it will be very good to know how far I am behind him," said Mr Chye, the project manager at a facilities management company who trains at least three times a week. "I will be satisfied if I manage to beat my personal best."

That is the spirit that the organisers, the People's Association and the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), hope will permeate the games.

"We hope to cultivate a platform for community bonding, where both amateurs and professional sportsmen can meet, interact and share skills. That should be the spirit of the games," said Mr Yam Ah Mee, chief executive director of the PA.

About 5,000 people aged eight to 80 will take part in 10 sports from Sept 1 to Sept 9, with Singapore divided into 15 competing clusters.

Among those taking part are two athletes who represented Singapore at the London Olympic Games.

They are 100m sprinter Gary Yeo, 25, and paddler Yang Zi, 28, who competed in the men's singles and team table tennis events. Mr Yeo will represent Pasir Ris- Punggol in the 100m and 200m events, while Mr Yang will represent Moulmein-Kallang in table tennis, which has only a team event.

Other competitors include former Olympians from the 2008 Beijing Games such as sprinter Calvin Kang, 22, who will compete for Pasir Ris-Punggol, and shuttler Li Yu Jia, 29, for East Coast.

Discus veteran James Wong, 43, a 10-time South-east Asian Games champion, will be throwing for Marine Parade.

Sprinter Yeo was invited to participate when he returned from London, but the others signed up on their own.

"The national athletes definitely might be at an advantage at the games," said Mr Ng Eng Soon, director of sports events for the SSC. "But we are certain that their presence and participation will help to motivate and inspire the community to take part in sports."

To even out the competition, most sports will allow only one national athlete to be fielded in a team.

The national games follow the intra-cluster Community Games. This is the first year these games are being organised with the national competition. It is an attempt to revive flagging interest in the old Inter-Constituency Games which began in 1972.

For senior technical executive Rahman Ibrahim, 49, the chance to pit his discus skills against a champion like Wong is something to relish.

But he said with a laugh: "His distance is double what I can throw. But I feel lucky to compete with him and who knows - maybe I will be able to pick up some tips from him."

But champion thrower Wong is looking forward to having fun, not serious competition.

He said: "I don't want to put pressure on myself or on anyone, whether I win or if they throw further than me; the meet is a platform to have fun.

"I think this is the first time people from all walks of life can compete against top athletes, which is a good thing as this should inspire them to take it up further."

Each cluster will send two teams for seven sports: badminton, basketball, bowling, netball, sepak takraw, soccer and table tennis.

Three more sports will also be featured: athletics, dragon boat racing and swimming.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are up for grabs in 218 events, and the medal tally will be updated daily on the games website ( www.singaporenationalgames.sg ).

Said the SSC's Mr Ng: "We hope to capture the sporting spirit of Singapore residents and provide an avenue for participants to foster lasting friendships."

No comments:

Post a Comment