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2013 - a year of sporting highlights

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Artist's impression of the Sports Hub which will open in 2014.

It has been a year of sporting excitement, with headlines lighting up with announcements and events that bring Singapore closer to its grandeur sporting masterplan - Vision 2030.

While we are taking that journey, we take a look at the highlights of 2013 and what they mean for the years to come.

First up, a sharp spike in entertainment runs and races across the country. Singapore has long been a country obsessed with fitness and marathons, but it was only this year that various themed races, aimed at getting a wider audience up and going, burst onto the running scene here.

Some examples include the Color Run, where runners have coloured cornstarch thrown at them; the Illumi Run, where they are doused in multi-coloured, non-toxic neon liquid; and the Zombie Run - or Race The Dead 2013 - that pitted runners against the undead in various obstacles.

All the aforementioned races managed to pull in the crowds with their unique offerings, attracting throngs of 20,000, 10,000, and 12,000 respectively. More notably, they were more accessible to those not accustomed to working out, with their relatively short 5 kilometre route being a doable distance.

Along the lines of mass fitness events were corporate games that gained momentum in the past year, with notable examples being the M1 Corporate Challenge and J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.

The M1 Corporate Challenge, saw 48 teams from various firms go head to head in a netball tournament, also featured Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information Mr Lawrence Wong in a friendly match between sports journalists from TODAY, Straits Times and The New Paper and Members-of-Parliament (MPs).

Mr Teo Ser Luck enjoys a game of Netball at the M1 Corporate Challenge. (Photo taken by VoxSports)

A collaboration between Netball Singapore and M1, the challenge hosted participants from organisations such as DBS Bank, Ernst and Young, IRAS, HSBC, Microsoft, SGX, and Singtel that totalled over 400 in attendance.

The response for this year’s challenge was so overwhelming that Netball Singapore had to limit the number of teams participating, turning down entries from 10 more corporate organisations.

Similarly, the 10th edition of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge earlier this April saw a record turnout of almost 17,000 executives pounding the pavements in the downtown race. With more than 400 companies having signed up, both numbers registered as records in Singapore for highest individual entries and the total number of companies respectively.

This was a notable increase from the numbers recorded at last year’s edition, where just over 14,000 people took part and a significant increase from the 2009 challenge, which saw a comparably paltry attendance of just over 11,000.

Kids having fun trying out floorball at the Jurong West Sports and Recreation Centre open house.

In line with the goal of giving more the opportunity to do sports, the Singapore Sports Council held a series of open house sessions over three weekends in September for residents in the west at the Super Sports Club.

With the aim of giving residents outside of the school and private club systems a chance to train and play sports competitively, the Super Sports Club opened its doors for members of the public to try their hand at 20 types of sports, at the same time offering them a free trial membership to the club.

The Club is one of the key recommendations of Vision2030 and although it will only be launched officially this coming year, the Council hoped to get feedback from the public’s response to the introduction of sports into their community.

With sports ranging from the conventional football to the exotic dance Zumba, it offered residents a peek into the wide range of sports they can pursue, right in their neighbourhoods.

On an international scale, Singapore won the rights to host the World Tennis Association Championships from next year all the way through 2018. As part of the plan by the WTA to increase interest in the sport of tennis in the region, they will set up office at the Singapore Sports Hub come April when it is due to open.

Singapore will be taking over the the title as host from Istanbul, Turkey, which said farewell to the WTA in October after hosting its last game.

The championships, hosted by Istanbul for the past three years, have seen a great amount of interest in tennis in Turkey as a result: more than 210,000 people in total swarmed the city’s Sinan Erdem Dome over the three year period, a record number registered at the event since 2000. The WTA hopes a similar pattern would follow on our shores when the Republic hosts the next five editions of the championships.

The first season to be hosted here will begin this coming October, and will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Lastly, OCBC bank made headlines in November after clinching a deal as the main sponsorship partner of the upcoming Singapore Sports Hub. The deal, inked for upwards of $50 million, gives the local bank naming rights to some facilities located in the hub for 15 years. However, this excludes the National Stadium and the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

This marks the first time a corporate entity’s branding will be involved in local sport facilities, and may be the signal the Republic is following in the steps of countries like the United States, where this practice is more widespread.
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