Today marked the first time that the oldest disability sports championships in Singapore – the National Athletics Championship organised by Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) – entered the new National Stadium. The 47-year-old championship welcomed 108 participants across 37 events offered in track and field disciplines.
These included 22-year old spexScholar, Suhairi Suhani, and 62-year-old Dr William Tan Keng Meng, who represented Singapore in its first Paralympic mission in 1988. Suhairi leapt 5.72m in the Men’s T20 Long Jump and William clocked 18.88s and 1:05.76s in the Men’s T53 100m and 400m respectively.
Suhairi, whose talent was discovered 10 years ago also at SDSC’s National Athletics Championship, said, “I started competing at 12 years old, as a representative of my school then. I look forward to this local competition every year to brush up on my techniques. Today, I completed my events with sports science testing to see if my new techniques are working well for me. This will help me in my pursuit towards the 2020 ASEAN Para Games and the Paralympics.”
Another Paralympian, Norsilawati Bte Sa’at, also participated in this year’s championship. “We were smiling all the way through the race on the track,” shared Norsilawati with Mr Oon Jin Teik, CEO of Singapore Sports Hub and Guest of Honour for the event, when she compared this first experience racing on the high-grade Mondo track in the National Stadium to her regular trainings at the Kallang Practice Track, “I told my fellow racer, see what I mean? It’s different!”
Besides offering a top-grade environment for high level athletes to capture their best performances, the National Athletics Championship 2019 welcomed new athletes who were making their first mark in Athletics. The championship marked another milestone, opening its first event for the II2 (Intellectual Impairment 2) category to enable individuals with both Down Syndrome and Intellectual Impairment to realise their potential through sports.
Jason Gan, a debutant from Mountbatten Vocational School took this opportunity to unearth a new passion for Athletics. Madam Tham Sin Hui, mother of Jason, said, “It was great to have a specialised classification. Being at the championship is an eye opener for all of us. It’s a good opportunity for Jason to know what competition is about and we will definitely sign him up again for next year’s championship.”
Jason Gan took home his first Athletics medal today with a time of 20.27s in the Men’s II2 100m event.