In its 14th edition, the Singapore Canoe Marathon featured about 700 participants and for the first time, a kids category was introduced.
The kids category saw 42 participants from the Singapore Canoe Federation’s flagship Kid-in-a-Kayak (KIAK) programme compete in a 4km route.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu (C) in action during the Singapore Canoe Marathon 2016. Photo: Sport Singapore
Conceptualized to allow children to experience and develop interest in paddle sports from a young age, the KIAK programme was officially launched in October 2015 and runs under the guidance of dedicated coaches.
“Through this programme, we want children to grow to love the sport first and think about competition later. The most important thing is for them to build friendships which will last many years,” said Francis Ng, Singapore Canoe Federation’s vice-president of strategic development.
Ng credited the programme to two-time Hungarian world champion and national head coach Babella Balázs, who shared with the Federation the development of athletes in Hungary.
“We’re trying to replicate some of that over here and we’re very grateful to him for suggesting this to us, as well as to our donors who helped fund us in order to buy our first fleet of customized boats.”
The event was also graced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who took part in the race alongside Team Singapore canoeists Stephenie Chen and Suzanne Seah.
Children attend a safety brief before participating in the Singapore Canoe Marathon 2016. Photo: Sport Singapore
“Having such events is good for the development and growth of the sport, and we’re glad to have a dedicated pool of staff and volunteers helping us,” said Singapore Canoe Federation president Yip Kwan Guan, who was pleased with the turnout.
“Hopefully one day we will be able to run it like the Standard Chartered Marathon, which is a bit far-fetched now, but we’ll definitely work towards it,” laughed Yip.
Tan Cheng Hui, one of the oldest participants at 61-years-old, was taking part in his third marathon this year and was heartened by the Federation’s plans to develop the young.
“It’s good to let the young ones try their hands out at the sport,” said Tan.
“Having them participate together with us is good because old people like us can help and guide them along.”