Onus on athletes to ensure safety: Experts

Onus on athletes to ensure safety: Experts

Much scrutiny has fallen on safety standards at large-scale sporting events in recent days.

Equipment, and bike helmets in particular, have also been in the spotlight following the death of cycling enthusiast Chia Wee Kiak, 24, from head injuries he suffered at the OCBC Cycle Singapore.

However, individuals have to be responsible for their own safety in sporting events too, said experts. They said, for instance, that bike helmets are not 100 per cent foolproof.

The manager of bicycle shop BikePlus Singapore, Mr Yusri Jumairi, 37, said: "How it (a helmet) is worn is very important; it must not be loose. It also depends on what the cyclist hit against, as helmets can crack."

And while some, such as Singapore Cycling Federation president Suhaimi Haji Said feel that more can be done to beef up safety measures at events - such as allowing public roads to be closed for longer periods and capping the number of participants - he too believes that "both organisers and participants have to be cautious".

Mr Chia's death, which is still under investigation by police, was the first at the OCBC Cycle Singapore, but there have been tragedies in other local sports events too, such as the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore and the Osim Singapore International Triathlon. And this has led seasoned observers to urge sportsmen to be more careful.

Said Mr Edgar Tham, a sports psychologist in private practice: "When people go for these mass events, and they have little competitive experience, in their 'kancheongness', they may not be prepared for the mental and physical demands and this could be a risk for themselves and others around them."

The president of the Safe Cycling Task Force, Mr Steven Lim, 47, added: "I think there is a very strong egoism and elitism mentality among sportsmen, so much so that these people let this mentality take over their judgment and actions.

"On a weekend ride, I see people riding like there's no tomorrow."

He urged his fellow cyclists to "match their speeds with road and traffic conditions, the environment", cautioning: "You do not want to go at a speed that is higher than what you can handle."

The co-founder of cycling group LoveCyclingSG, Mr Woon Tai Woon, 39, agreed, saying cyclists need "to be very aware of our vulnerabilities... and ride within our limits".

Asian Athletics Association honorary secretary Maurice Nicholas believes that sports events here are already "very safe".

"Every organiser takes care to make it safe for everybody," he said. "The onus is on the participants - for example, if you're taking part in a marathon, you have to make sure you are trained properly and are fit."

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