Free access for sport pioneers

Free access for sport pioneers
Tang Pui Wah (blue shirt) and netball pioneer Tan Yoon Yin talking with minister Lawrence Wong in front of an exhibit of Tan Howe Liang’s weightlifting gear from the 1960 Olympics.

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.

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