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The spirit of the Asia Masters

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Singapore hosted the 19th Asia Masters Athletics Championships for the first time since 1992 over last weekend, and saw about 2000 athletes from 25 different countries participating in the biennial competition.

Catered to athletes above the age of 35, the intent of this athletics meets is vastly different from the IAAF World Championships. 

Asia Masters 2016

Competitors in action during the 19th Asia Masters Athletics Championships at the National Stadium. Photo: Sport Singapore

Friendships were forged and the spirit of running and exercise were reinforced through the five day competition.

“The objective is to give everyone an opportunity to compete at the highest level. And also letting the athletes know each other from different international countries,” said Jaime Cheong, General Manager of Singapore Athletics.

“Because when we are start working in the corporate world, especially when we are 35 and above, we do not have the opportunity to train everyday, let alone commit to a team or club.”

“So this would give them a good opportunity to meet people with the same objective.”

Beyond the social aspect of the competition however, many people participated in the event to keep themselves fit and in tip-top condition.

Nadaison Pookays, who has been a marathon runner for more than 40 years, said: “Without running, we won't be healthy. At our age, if we rest for three days, we will get rusty already so we have to keep on moving.”

“It is in my blood already. As long as I am healthy, I'll be running.”

Afandi Binbuang, 71, also agreed. “I don't know why but when I don't run, my leg and my body feels pain. I must run. When I run, my body feels better,” he said. 

Asia Masters 2016

Afandi Binbuang at the 19th Asia Masters Athletics Championships. Photo: Sport Singapore 

While these senior athletes had to travel overseas to compete previously, this year's Asia Masters has given these athletes a rare opportunity to compete locally.

“There is no competition in track and field. We used to go to Malaysia and Thailand for the long distance run,” 72-year-old Pookays said.

Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans to host another Asia Masters soon in Singapore due to the punishing demands of the event.

First established in 1997, the latest edition of the Asia Masters was “one of the most taxing events that we have ever organised”, according to Singapore Athletics President Tang Weng Fei.

"It is tough. It is more complex than the Singapore Open. There are multiple age groups and multiple events,” Tang said.

"We have maxed out our system. It's a lot more logistics, more ambulances on standby, and more safety and medical personnel." 

Asia Masters 2016

Competitors share a moment during the 19th Asia Masters Athletics Championships. Photo: Sport Singapore 

An event on such a massive scale would not have been possible without Team Nila volunteers to help out in all areas from crowd control to logistics. 

Team Nila at Asia Masters

Team Nila volunteer (in orange) in action at the event. Photo: Michael Pagador/ Team Nila 

For youngsters who are interested in keeping fit and healthy through to their old age, join the ActiveSG Athletics Club!

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