Sng's sponsorship kept athletes on track

Sng's sponsorship kept athletes on track
Sng Sze Hiang, boss of electronics firm Akira and former national runner.

He carried the hopes of the country in the men's 400m when Singapore hosted the SEA Games in 1983.

He did not win a medal but, more than 30 years later, Sng Sze Hiang could be at the helm of the local athletics scene when Singapore holds the biennial meet next year.

The now 51-year-old businessman intends to run for the presidency of the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) during elections on June 23.

It is not a bolt from the blue, for while he may have hung up his running shoes in 1983, Sng has maintained close ties with the local track and field fraternity.

In 1994, the director of consumer electronics company Akira Corporation pledged to give Singapore's track and field athletes $10,000 for a silver medal and $5,000 for a bronze at that year's Asian Games in Japan.

Unfortunately, none finished on the podium.

The following year, the SAA - then known as the Singapore Amateur Athletics Association - approached Sng to sponsor national high jumper Hoe Aik Teng.

The father of five sons obliged, giving the then-national junior high jump record-holder $1,000 each month for a year.

Another beneficiary is high jumper Michelle Sng, who holds the national open (1.8m), Under-23 (1.8m), U-19 (1.72m), and U-17 (1.64m) records.

She received a scholarship, worth about $23,000, from Akira in 2007 to fund her studies at the Singapore Management University as she pursued her dream of competing at the London Olympics.

She did not, however, qualify for the 2012 event.

Akira also inked a one-year, $300,000 sponsorship deal with local football club Geylang International - then Geylang United - in 2003. Sng co-founded TT International, which owns Akira, with wife Julia Tong in 1984.

From a small trading firm in Peninsula Plaza, it has grown into a publicly-listed, global corporation with market capitalisation of $142.58 million.

This article was first published on May 28, 2014.
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