Local athletes celebrate as club meets returns
After SEA Games performance, local athletics has more to celebrate
As he scanned the Kallang Practice Track yesterday afternoon, Singapore Athletics (SA) president Tang Weng Fei broke into a smile.
"Look around," the former national hurdler told The New Paper.
"You can see so much activity."
The Kallang Practice Track, also known as the Home of Athletics (HOA), hosted the Singapore Inter-Club Championships over the weekend - the first time it has featured since 2004.
The annual competition was hugely popular from the 1970s to 1990s, but suffered a decline in recent years.
After a strong public turnout at the SEA Games on home soil in June - local athletics posted its best showing at the Games since 2003 in Hanoi - SA believes the time is right to resurrect interest in club competitions.
Of the SA's 21 affiliates, 16 took part yesterday.
Said Tang: "I believe club vibrancy will lead to the improvement of the sport.
"The club scene here has been dormant for so long, and that's possibly one of the reasons we are backward in our standard."
The oil trader explained that many local athletes begin falling by the wayside after they complete their tertiary education.
With events like the Inter-Club Championships, they can continue their involvement in the sport.
Tang hopes a title sponsor will come on board for future Inter-Club meets.
SA vice-president (competitions) Loh Chan Pew, 70, added: "I've been involved in Inter-Club Championships for the last 50 years, as an athlete, a coach, an administrator and a planner.
"I'm happy with the good turnout.
"We limited athletes to only two events each, but even then almost every event was full."
Discus thrower Hannah Lee, who won a bronze at the SEA Games, hailed the return of the meet.
"It's definitely good for the sport," said the 23-year-old, who represented Wings Athletics Club and comfortably won her event with a 39.42m effort, almost eight metres further than the next best.
"Quite a number of us (younger athletes) have not had this before.
"The prize money is the biggest draw, and it's nice to see a lot of familiar faces turn up and compete.
"The competitiveness level is higher than at the usual Track and Field Series.
"With athletes running for their clubs and institutions, they are more motivated."
Tang, however, was disappointed with some affiliates, particularly the Singapore Police Sports Association.
"Almost everyone is here," said the 61-year-old.
"I'm (especially) disappointed with Police, and I'm going to send a letter to their convener to find out why they chose not to participate, so that they will next year... They have a rich history with the inter-club championships.
"Many ex-champion sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers were from Police.
"We have to come together to bring the sport forward. If not, why be an affiliate?"
The National University of Singapore (NUS) came out on top over the weekend, scoring 235 points to win the Inter-Club title and $2,000 prize money.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) finished second with 215 points to claim $1,500, followed by Nanyang Polytechnic with 117 points for $1,000.
STANDINGS (top 10 in the 16-club field)
- NUS 235 points
- NTU 215
- NYP 117
- Wings 102
- RP 96
- Zoom 90
- SAFSA 83
- SIM 62
- Swift 59
- SMU 57