Ngee Ann poly cheerleader landed on his back and head after 'back hand spring' manoeuvre

Lai Qing Xiang (right), a member of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s cheerleading team Magnum Force, died after spending two weeks in a coma at the National University Hospital. -- FILE PHOTO: WANBAO READER
Lai Qing Xiang (right), a member of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s cheerleading team Magnum Force, died after spending two weeks in a coma at the National University Hospital. -- FILE PHOTO: WANBAO READER

Attempting to do a "back hand spring" manoeuvre during a cheerleading practice last August, Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Lai Qing Xiang failed to jump high enough to execute the move.

He fell awkwardly on a crash mat, landing on his back and head, and later went into a coma. Qing Xiang, 18, died in hospital two weeks later from his injuries which included a fractured spine, and a blood clot in the heart. These details emerged in court on Tuesday, the first day of a coroner's inquiry held to look into Qing Xiang's tragic death.

According to a police investigation report, the court heard that Qing Xiang had attempted the manoeuvre while supported by two fellow members of the polytechnic's cheerleading team called Magnum Force. One of them had told police that he had tried his his best to hold the 1.77m-tall Qing Xiang, who weighed 100kg, by his lower back with one hand, while supporting his leg with the other. This statement corroborated closed-circuit TV footage of the incident captured on August 30, 2013.

But the focus of much of Tuesday's hearing was on Qing Xiang's coach, Mr Andrew Ong Hoon Haw. The cheerleading coach, who has two years' experience, was grilled for more than three hours on how he handled the incident. Questions directed at him ranged from his credentials as a cheerleading coach, to requirements in order to sign up with the cheerleading group.

Qing Xiang was a late bloomer who was in the Normal (Technical) Stream in secondary school. He went on to the Institute of Technical Education and made it to Ngee Ann to study chemical and biomolecular engineering.

State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid adjourned the inquiry until March 18. The two students who supported Qing Xiang are then expected to take the stand.

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