Friday, January 12, 2018

Singapore Athletics Affiliated and Non Affiliated Clubs

By Rameshon

When I was training in England between year 1992-1994, I had to run three races for the Loughborough University Cross Country Team. To my surprise, I saw so many clubs, with their different colour vests for the race. It was league one race and Loughborough University was included. I have never seen this sight in Singapore. 

The best runner of the second league Cross Country, in year 1992, could do 2hr 12min in a marathon race. Such was the difficulty of the championships. 

In league one, all 90-100 runners were capable of doing sub-34min or may be sub - 33min for 10km race for the track or for road races. At that time, I have already done five sub 33min, in Singapore, or my 10km races, on the track and on sanction road races, as well. (Note: Races in Singapore during my time, early 1990s were all sanctioned. Right now, we have only two of all the races which are sanctioned by SAA to race. A sanctioned race time can be used for accuracy and validity of the race distance and timing. In the past, the race time and distance, were therefore accurate as opposed to what we see now. IAAF believes in sanctioned races).

Any way, coming back to the story, on the cross country races in UK, the spectators during the cross country leagues were spectacular. There were kids and adults along the route were cheering their friends or children. Once, a road sweeper came to our assistance to tell the detail of the course and I found what he said were correct. 

The competition was of very high standards and I came in 67th in the UK Cross country league one, out of 93 very strong runners. Between 1990 till 1992, I was coming in first in Singapore for races between 5km and marathon, besides coming in first in 1500m, most of the time. However, earlier on, with the current position of 67th position, at that time, it made me sad and frustrated. 

Only after seeing Gary Lough, Puala Radcliffe's (current world record holder for marathon) husband, coming in 45th position, his run became a consolation for me for not getting the top 10 position for the race. Why? It was because Gary Lough had once beaten Steve Cram, a former world record holder for 1500/mile, in a competitive races. 

The distance ran in the Cross Country races were between 9 and 10km. It is not easy to run the race, as the cross country race was 10 times worst than Bedok Reservoir. It seems like a road run going on here rather than a cross country race. I would not dispute Mac Ritchie Reservoir as a good ground for a cross country race. When compared, the standard with Singapore, standard, at that time, I felt that we were really behind time. These races in UK were more structured than in Singapore. I was talking to some affiliated and non affiliated clubs on the above statements, and all agree on the points raised. 

Hence, I feel that the affiliated clubs in overseas are very popular and the number is really big and more. Here, the affiliated clubs like Swift, Flash, Red Hawk etc do not have a high rate of participation as compared to the past, participation were quite acceptable. Non affiliated clubs will have more people participating and it is very popular, currently in Singapore. Why? It is because right now, people are able to afford. As a coach can he or she is usually paid, and the individual's training programme and performance will have more consistency, and that means one will do better. Hence, many in Singapore have predominantly joined clubs Flexifitness and Singapore Shufflers for their high standard of performance. In POSB Run 2017, both groups mentioned took nearly all the top individual and team prizes. 

Hence, it is a good idea to invite both groups,  Flexifitness and Shufflers etc into the SAA Cross Country races so that both and other non affiliated clubs will ensure some form of progress in standard of Singapore Athletics rather than a downward spiral standard going on. An individual by the name of Sam, not the real name, told me that their affiliated clubs wants to boycott, although they have planned the race to be run from last year. 

It is not just about high standard of maintained in running but it also in supporting the government initiatives. Our Prime Minister has mentioned that one of the three focus for the government and for public as well is to be aware of reducing diseases. One in three Singaporeans have diabetes  and it is a worrying trend. I did a research on Sports Participation  in year 2008 for my Masters in Education, University of Western Australia, 2005 to 2008. In my research, it was found the government will spend about 10 billions in a decade. This is like reducing the government reserves, which is finally the people of Singapore's reserve. More participation in sports means lesser chance of getting diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and certain cancer diseased. Most of the diseases can be prevented by the public involving in health and fitness activities.  

By inviting both affiliated and non affiliated, the team effect of bringing developing runners as well will bring about more runners to come forward and work as a unit, where friendship will be derived and it will support the government initiative.