Asian Indoor Tug of War Championships a big pull for Singapore Athletics

Singapore will host some of the region's top tug-of-war teams when the inaugural Asian Indoor Tug of War Championships take place at Republic Polytechnic tomorrow.

Tug of war is one of the few sports - alongside rowing and backstroke swimming - where the objective is to go backwards. But as a sport, it has made big strides forward, just narrowly missing out on inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Organised by Singapore Athletics (SA), the event will feature 15 teams from seven countries, including World Championships silver medallists Taiwan and powerhouses China, all competing to be crowned the first Asian champions.

Singapore will be represented by four teams from the Home Team who, despite their busy schedules due to National Day activities, have been training three times a week in the lead up to the competition.

Said team manager Muhammad Raizaluddin: "For us, this competition will be more for experience and exposure because some of the Home Team guys are very new to the sport, so in our teams, we will mix and balance the more experienced guys with the new ones."

The 36-year-old prison officer vowed that the hosts would "put up a good fight", but singled out Taiwan and China as strong favourites for the title.

SA has had a tug-of-war arm since 2012, with the Tug of War International Federation (TWIF) overseeing the sport at a global level.

Participants have to follow a strict set of rules at the competitive level.

Matches feature two teams of eight, attempting to pull a rope two metres in their direction.

There are also guidelines on what outfits can be worn, including footwear, as well as specific weight categories similar to boxing.

Tomorrow's Asian Championships will feature the men's 640kg category, meaning the total weight of the eight participants has to be within 640kg during today's weigh-in.

Said SA tug-of-war chairman Terry Tan: "We hope to promote the sport as it is a good way to encourage community bonding."

Representatives from the competing Asian countries will also meet TWIF representatives after the competition, as the international body seeks to "unite" countries under standardised rules.

Added Tan: "Hopefully, we can see the sport in the SEA or Asian Games in the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2017, with the headline 'Asian Indoor Tug of War C'ships a big pull for SA'. Print Edition | Subscribe