Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016

Singapore Marathon: Briton, 29, dies after collapsing

Top: The main group of runners being flagged off at Orchard Road. Above: John Gibson, a Hong Kong-based Briton, died in SGH after collapsing about 1km before the end of the half-marathon.
The main group of runners being flagged off at Orchard Road.PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Top: The main group of runners being flagged off at Orchard Road. Above: John Gibson, a Hong Kong-based Briton, died in SGH after collapsing about 1km before the end of the half-marathon.
John Gibson, a Hong Kong-based Briton, died in SGH after collapsing about 1km before the end of the half-marathon.PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE GIBSON FAMILY

John Gibson, a keen athlete and in excellent condition, was attended to straight away

A 29-year-old died during the half-marathon at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore yesterday, the second tragedy to strike the annual event in recent years.

John Gibson, a Briton who was living in Hong Kong, was said to have collapsed just before 6.30am, about a kilometre away from the finish line at the Padang.

Race organisers say he was attended to immediately and taken to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where he died. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

When contacted yesterday, Gibson's father Robert told The Straits Times that his son was a keen athlete and even took part in two triathlons this year.

"It has come to us as a great shock that John collapsed and died," the elder Gibson said. "He seemed in excellent physical condition, and completed the Paris and London triathlons in respectable times earlier this year. He went running regularly."

 
 
 

According to the athlete's sister Fredel, he completed a full-body check-up only months ago, and was given a clean bill of health. He also had a list of triathlons and marathons that he was aiming to compete in next year.

The late Gibson was born in Hong Kong and lived there until he was 17. He attended the London School of Economics, where he earned first-class honours in mathematics and economics.

Upon graduation, he worked as a chartered accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London before taking a year off to complete a master's in international relations and diplomacy at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

He returned to Hong Kong only two months ago, to be nearer family and to further his career there.

His father thanked race organiser Ironman Asia's managing director Geoff Meyer for the support given following the incident, as well as doctors at SGH who tended to his son.

He said: "We have learnt from them of the excellent medical support which tried to rescue John after he collapsed."

Both Ironman Asia and Sport Singapore issued separate statements yesterday, expressing their condolences and saying that they would continue to provide support and assistance to the Gibson family.

A fellow race participant, who was metres away when Gibson collapsed, said he was attended to immediately by three people near him, one of whom performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him before an ambulance arrived.

Dutch Stephanie de Geus Westrik, 40, was awaiting the start of her 10km race with a friend and called the emergency medical hotline provided on their race bibs after seeing him collapse. She said: "They started shouting for help and an ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later. Everyone standing around there at that time saw what happened. I was so shocked."

This is the second fatality the marquee marathon has suffered in recent years. In 2011, Malcolm Sng, 22, collapsed at the half-marathon finish line. A coroner's hearing later determined that the undergraduate died from acute coronary insufficiency and had a previously undetected abnormal coronary artery.

Gibson's death cast an unfortunate pall over this year's event, which was run for the first time by Ironman Asia, and had taken place relatively smoothly despite initial fears that route changes and a lack of trains to transport runners to start points would result in chaos.

Runners were bussed in and few had complaints. The earlier start time - 4.30am for both half- and full marathoners - was, in particular, lauded.

Teacher Judith Shang, 27, also appreciated the half-marathon starting at Orchard Road instead of Sentosa. She said: "It may be a bit painful to get up earlier, but I'm glad to miss the heat. People run better, the event ends earlier and it's better for traffic."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'Briton, 29, dies after collapsing'. Print Edition | Subscribe