Saturday, 11 October 2014

Pioneer athletes, officials and coaches to get free lifetime access to public pools and gyms

Free access for sport pioneers
Lifetime pass to pools and gyms for inspiring nation, says Lawrence Wong
By Terence Ong, The Straits Times, 10 Oct 2014

SINGAPORE's pioneer athletes, coaches and officials will now get free lifetime access to public swimming pools and gymnasiums.

Under the new initiative, announced yesterday by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, sports pioneers aged 65 years old and above are eligible for the complimentary use of these facilities.

To enjoy the offer, sports pioneers have to sign up for an ActiveSG account - through the ActiveSG website, mobile-phone application or guest services office at the gyms and swimming complexes - and produce their identity cards at the pools and gyms to enjoy the free access.

Said Mr Wong: "We want you to remain actively involved in the sporting scene and serve as role models for our younger Team Singapore members.

"Whatever we do, it cannot fully reflect the contributions that our sports pioneers have made (but) it is a way for us to say 'thank you for inspiring the nation'."

Further details, such as the scheme's commencement date and eligibility, will be announced by national agency Sport Singapore at a later date.

The announcement was made yesterday evening at a Sport Singapore event at the Sports Hub to honour more than 200 pioneers.

In attendance were Tang Pui Wah, Singapore's first female Olympian when she took part in the 1952 Helsinki Games; Foo Chee Han, a three-time men's 1,500m freestyle swimming champion at the Merdeka Cup; and Michael Khoo, the Football Association of Singapore's honorary secretary from 1975 to 1981.

The scheme to allow pioneers free access to gyms and swimming pools has been greeted with the approval of the former sportsmen, who felt that it was due recognition for their contributions.

Said Foo, 74: "In my time, I had to train out at sea but, now, this access will allow me - and many others - to enjoy the new swimming facilities that others go to as well.

"It also allows people like me to spend time exercising and bonding with our grandchildren."

Added Khoo: "This will motivate members of the older generation to exercise and keep fit like how they used to, albeit at a slower pace, and help build up their physical strength which is essential at their age."

The pioneers also attended the opening ceremony of the Singapore Sports Museum and Singapore Youth Olympic Museum, which honours not only the country's sports history but also stars like weightlifter Tan Howe Liang, swimmer Ang Peng Siong, silat master Sheik Alauddin, footballer Fandi Ahmad and sailor Ben Tan.

Entry to the museums is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents while admission for foreigners is priced at $10 and $5 for students and senior citizens above the age of 60.

Sporting past preserved for everyone
By Terence Ong, The Straits Times, 10 Oct 2014

HER name is unlikely to ring a bell with most Singaporeans but Tang Pui Wah holds an important place in the country's sporting history.

Now 81, the former teacher was the Republic's first female Olympian when she took part in the 100m sprint and 80m hurdles at the 1952 Helsinki Games, before winning a Manila Asian Games bronze medal in the latter event two years later.

More importantly, she was a trailblazer for female athletes in Singapore colours when being active in sports was generally frowned upon.

"I'm proud to have inspired girls to go on the same path as me and represent our country," she said yesterday evening at the official opening of the Singapore Sports Museum and Singapore Youth Olympic Museum at the Sports Hub.

"Once there's a beginning to something, people will naturally follow suit so I'm happy and excited that things have turned out as such."

Apart from facing opposition due to her gender, Tang competed when there was little funding for national athletes.

Although their trips overseas were paid for by what is now the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), national athletes had to cover their own training expenses while juggling sports with studies or work.

A fierce patriot, Tang never folded in adversity. She cited Song-dynasty general Yue Fei and warrior-poet Wen Tianxiang's loyalty to China as inspirations after reading novels about them.

"If these noble men could have a deep sense of patriotism without ever asking for anything in return, I felt obliged to do the same," said Tang.

She hung up her spikes for good in 1955, at the age of 22, when she graduated belatedly from secondary school as she had stopped attending classes during the Japanese Occupation.

After graduation, she taught mathematics and PE at Kheng Cheng School for two years, before she married and quit her job to raise her two sons. She faded from the public eye after that.

But she was not forgotten by Singapore sports officialdom and was asked to play a part in yesterday's event. The museums are open to the public from today.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, paid tribute to the pioneers like Tang and more than 200 other veteran sportsmen, officials and coaches at the opening ceremony.

"Our sports pioneers seeded the birth of our sporting nation... (by persevering) against the odds, and blazed the trail for many of us," he said.

"Through their efforts, they inspired many young athletes who now dare to pursue their sporting dreams and passion.

"With the foundations they laid, I am confident our new generation of sportsmen and women will be able to emulate their efforts and continue to fly the Singapore flag high."

Tang gave the museums the thumbs up.

"It's good that they've set up the museum as these places contain stories that will inspire future generations to strive harder for their dreams," she said.

Added Gerard Clarke, 96, who represented Singapore in hockey and cricket from 1939 to 1949: "In our time, sport was not just about winning or losing - but also about sportsmanship.

"It seems some sportspeople have now lost that value so, hopefully, a museum like this can help rekindle that spirit."

Check out greats at museum
The Straits Times, 10 Oct 2014

VISITORS can learn more about the achievements of the nation's sporting heroes in the newly opened Singapore Sports Museum and Singapore Youth Olympic Museum at the Sports Hub.

They are managed by SportsHub Pte Ltd.

The Sports Museum, formerly housed at the old National Stadium before it was demolished in 2010, has a section that pays homage to the Grand Old Dame with memorabilia such as loudspeakers, benches and turnstiles.

Interactive screens at different sections of the museum track the sporting careers of the likes of swimmer Ang Peng Siong, sprinter C. Kunalan and footballer Fandi Ahmad.

Their rewards can also be viewed close up, such as Ang's 50m freestyle gold medal from the 1982 US National Championships, when he broke the world record with a time of 22.69sec, and weightlifter Tan Howe Liang's belt and silver medal from the 1960 Olympic Games - the first medal won by Singapore at that level.

A section linked to the National Heritage Board's I Remember SG programme, named Hear Kallang Roar, has old match programmes, photos and videos of football matches involving Singapore.

Over at the Youth Olympic Museum, visitors can check out the torches used to light the cauldron's flame at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), Summer and Winter Olympic Games, as well as equipment used by athletes at the YOG.

One of them is the swimming cap worn by Japanese Yuka Sato, who was the first-ever YOG gold medallist when she won the girl's triathlon event at the 2010 Games that Singapore hosted.

There are also mementoes from the Singapore team who participated in the recent YOG in Nanjing, like gold-winning sailor Bernie Chin's access pass, on display.

Both museums are opened from 10am to 8pm on weekdays, and 10am to 9pm on weekends and public holidays.

Admission is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents, while foreign visitors have to pay $10 ($5 for children under 18 years old, students with a valid student pass and seniors aged 60 and above).

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