Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Singapore Canoe Marathon debuts in heartlands as 700 take to Punggol Waterway

Water sports flow inland
Residents in heartland can tap on activities from People's Association
By Fabius Chen, The Straits Times, 13 Jan 2014

SINGAPOREANS can look forward to more water-sport activities in the heartland.

This is in the wake of the People's Association (PA) planning to introduce more programmes outside its eight Water-Venture sites.

"We are bringing more and more ventures down to the heartland so that residents can benefit," Ang Hak Seng, its chief executive director, confirmed.

"The PA has always seen sport not just as a way of keeping fit or for competition; it's also a great way to bond the community."

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 12th Singapore Canoe Marathon, held yesterday at Anchorvale Community Club.

This year's edition, which marked the first time that the event has moved from its usual Marina Reservoir locale and into the heartland, saw over 700 enthusiasts paddling down Punggol Waterway.

Applauding the plan to have more water sports in the heartland was Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who yesterday took to the water in the name of charity.

His efforts, along with those of Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee and Nominated Member of Parliament Nicholas Fang, helped raise $40,000 for the development of a para-canoeing programme.

According to Mr Tan, introducing sports like canoeing to the heartland will make for greater community involvement at next year's SEA Games, which Singapore will host.

"It's important to bring activities like canoeing into the heartland to promote the sport, get more people to participate and become familiar with it as a spectator sport as well," he said.

"When you talk about Team Singapore, it's not just about the athletes; it's about the whole community coming together as one to support the effort."

Mr Lee concurred, saying: "Holding such events in the heartland is a very good way to bring the sport to the community."

As adviser to the Singapore Canoe Federation, he added that the national canoeists' preparations for next year's Games were already under way.

"Training is in full swing and our athletes are working very closely with the Singapore Sports Institute to ensure that they peak in 2015," he said.

There is also behind-the-scenes work to be done - not least the selection of a race venue, with Mr Lee noting that "there are various options we need to look at".

National canoeist Suzanne Seah said the Marina Reservoir remains the most logical choice.

"It's the most spectator-friendly," added the 24-year-old who struck K2 200m gold in Myanmar last month. "At venues like MacRitchie, all you can see is the finishing line."

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