Last hurrah for Tampines Bike Park?

21 May, 2013   Syukri Anwar

The 8th Asian BMX Championships brought together contestants from all over the region including China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia (photo by Shaun Shau Chiet/SSC).

By Kristopher Mizoguchi

In 2010, the Tampines Bike Park played host to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. Over the past three years, the park had seen much upgrades and additions as a mountain biking facility. Due to make way for new town development in the Tampines precinct, the 8th Asian BMX Championships is inarguably the last event that the park had hosted in its short three-year span.

One of the biggest biking events in the region, the Asian BMX Championships, now in its eighth year, saw contestants from Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The competition is split into four categories, namely the Men’s and Women’s Elite (aged 19 and older), and Men’s and Women’s Junior (aged 17 to 18). 

The event kicked off at 9AM with riders doing practice rounds around the track. The seeding race begun at approximately 10.15AM, marking the first race of the day. Seeding is carried out to determine the brackets during qualifying races.

The Japanese and Chinese were quick to create leads over their fellow competitors, largely dominating the qualifying races and the following semi-finals. However, an unexpected finish by Filipino participant Daniel Patrick Caluag put the two behind him as he emerged first in the Men’s Elite category with an amazing time of 29.951 seconds. His win didn’t happen by luck; Caluag was the only Asian BMX rider in the 2012 London Olympics. The second and third runner-ups were from Japan, conceding less than a half a second behind Caluag.

It was a different story in the Men’s Junior Category. Japan managed to clinch the first and second positions while South Korea came in third. In the Women’s races, Japan dominated the Junior category while China took home all the glory with the top three positions in the Elite category. 

While teams celebrated their victory, this could possibly be the last time Tampines Bike Park is seeing such an event. It had been announced just this month that the park would be redeveloped into a new town called Tampines North.

Max Mager, who oversaw the construction of the park when it was still “flat as a pancake”, thinks that tearing down this venue would be a shame. “I hope that the government would be able to change its plans or delay the redevelopment. There are many people who are hoping that the park stays as well, such as the casual bikers, the local cycling fraternity and the Singapore Cycling Federation too.”

Race director Lin Ziyi hopes the park can stay a little longer. “We have been told that works could start as early as 2014, but we are hoping for an extension to 2015, or beyond 2015 if possible.”

“The Singapore Cycling Federation is trying to do its best to at least preserve the BMX track till 2015,” he adds. If the track is kept, it could be used as an extra training facility to prepare for the 2015 SEA Games. 

The Tampines Bike Park that played host to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games could have seen its last piece of major action over the weekend in the 8th BMX Asian Continental Championships (photo by Lawrence Ang/SSC).

The Tampines Bike Park, having evolved from “a pancake” to a 10-kilometer mountain bike trail and UCI1-approved BMX track, had seen many legacies being forged since its start as a competition venue for the YOG in 2010. With the continued efforts and support of local cyclists, the park might ultimately be preserved; and in years to come, hopefully, it will be able to relive similar moments like it had witnessed since its beginnings.

1. UCI stands for Union Cycliste Internationale, the English name is International Cycling Union