S'pore athletics picks up speed

The achievements in the past 12 months by Singapore's track and field stars have already begun to bear fruit for local athletics even as 2016 is still days away.

Singapore Athletics (SA) announced yesterday a partnership with home-grown traditional Chinese medicine firm Kin Teck Tong.

The latter's team of in-house physicians and therapists at its new premises in Kallang Wave Mall will provide complimentary sessions for the national team.

The one-year deal begins on Jan 1 and is worth $280,000. A second- year tie-up remains negotiable.

The last sizeable corporate investments directly into SA came in 2013. It sealed a three-year agreement worth $450,000 with Key Power International to supply sports apparel to the national athletes, and another $50,000 deal with Coca-Cola.

At the SEA Games in June, the Republic managed their best showing in athletics - nine medals, three each in the different colours - at the biennial event for more than a decade. This has improved public perception and increased awareness of the sport's potential, noted SA president Tang Weng Fei.

"We had pretty encouraging results. Shanti's (Pereira) win in the 200m, a first (track) gold in 42 years, made people take notice.

"It definitely helps us when we speak to sponsors.

"We have kids like Shanti, (Soh) Rui Yong, they're good ambassadors for the sport and they market themselves and the organisation to the public."

Besides the Olympics in Rio, for which the SA is likely to utilise its two wild cards, next year will also see the SA host the Asian Masters Athletics Championship and about 2,500 participants.

SEA Games marathon champion Soh praised the momentum generated since June. He said: "We managed to showcase track and field to a much wider audience and there's a lot more positivity and engagement among the community. It's been a great first step but we still have a long way to go.

There are also plans to improve the aesthetics of the Kallang Practice Track, home to the SA, and this could bring in more sponsors.

Said Tang: "There's no reason we can't market the naming rights to the place and that's something we are also exploring.

"The SEA Games has raised the bar. We must ensure this continues and make constant improvements.

"Next year will be an even bigger year for us."


This article was first published on December 27, 2015.
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