'Bad boy' of cycling pedals for a cause

These men in lycra - (from left) Firoz Loh, 16; Mr Syed Amir Haziq, 28; and Mr Benedict Lee, 21 - will be riding 250km around the island with Singapore national cyclist Vincent Ang (above) to raise funds for former offenders.
These men in lycra - (from left) Firoz Loh, 16; Mr Syed Amir Haziq, 28; and Mr Benedict Lee, 21 - will be riding 250km around the island with Singapore national cyclist Vincent Ang to raise funds for former offenders.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
These men in lycra - (from left) Firoz Loh, 16; Mr Syed Amir Haziq, 28; and Mr Benedict Lee, 21 - will be riding 250km around the island with Singapore national cyclist Vincent Ang (above) to raise funds for former offenders.
These men in lycra - Firoz Loh, 16; Mr Syed Amir Haziq, 28; and Mr Benedict Lee, 21 - will be riding 250km around the island with Singapore national cyclist Vincent Ang (above) to raise funds for former offenders.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Vincent Ang and three teammates aim to raise $100,000 for Yellow Ribbon Project

Controversial Singapore cyclist Vincent Ang wants to turn over a new leaf, and to help former offenders do the same.

Together with three other teammates, the 2015 SEA Games bronze medallist will be riding 250km around the island on Feb 26, in order to raise funds for the Yellow Ribbon Project.

They hope to raise $100,000 for the organisation, which helps rehabilitate former offenders.

Mr Ang won one of Singapore's two medals in cycling at the SEA Games last year, but was given a three-month suspension last August for assaulting a fellow teammate during a training ride.

The 38-year-old, who is currently training in Thailand, was unavailable for comment, but in a note posted on the event's fund-raising page, Mr Ang said he has served 30 hours of community service and was remorseful for his actions.

"Put bluntly, I was not the poster boy for the sport of cycling, rather the 'bad boy'," he wrote.

He added that during his suspension, he found out about the fund's work to help former offenders heal and reintegrate - it was work that struck him "emotionally".

"I found this to be a truly noble initiative and could relate, to a certain extent, the stigma and bias faced by ex-offenders," he said.

Mr Ang and his three teammates - Mr Benedict Lee, 21; Mr Syed Amir Haziq, 28; and Firoz Loh, 16 - will set off from the Sports Hub and ride overnight.

They will finish at the walls of Changi Prison at 8am the next day.

It will be one of the longest distances they have ridden in a single sitting.

"With the amount of time we are going to spend in the saddle, my butt is going to hurt a lot," said teenager Firoz cheekily.

However, the seasoned men in lycra will have no problems going the distance.

Firoz, who studies at Tanglin Secondary School, came in fourth last month in the men's junior individual time trial at the Asian Cycling Championships in Japan.

The group is expected to take about eight hours to complete the distance, riding at an average speed of about 30kmh.

In the last 15km of their ride, they will be joined by other cyclists from Sport Singapore, the Singapore Cycling Federation's management committee and members of the Singapore Prison Service cycling team.

Mr Lee, who is waiting to enter university, urged the public to contribute to the cause.

"I have some friends who have made mistakes and spent about four to five months in jail and they come out really scarred and find it hard to find a job. But I believe everyone deserves a second chance," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2016, with the headline ''Bad boy' of cycling pedals for a cause'. Print Edition | Subscribe