Haze clears but rain now a dampener

First, it was the haze that forced training to be moved indoors. Now, frequent heavy showers pose a new disruption in the run-up to the Asean Para Games next month.
First, it was the haze that forced training to be moved indoors. Now, frequent heavy showers pose a new disruption in the run-up to the Asean Para Games next month.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

APG athletes forced to train indoors even as they wait to get a feel of National Stadium track

The Singapore athletics team have faced one disruption after another in the run-up to next month's Asean Para Games (APG) here.

First, they had to deal with the haze which saw them go 10 consecutive days without training.

As wheelchair racer William Tan recalled: "I had to wear a mask in order to train."

Even then, he noted that he felt like choking "because of my Stage 4 leukaemia, where the stem cells attack my joints, lungs and skin so, therefore, I am more susceptible to hazy conditions".

However, after the haze had cleared up, the team now face a new problem - rain.

With heavy showers a regular occurrence since the start of this month, the team's five to six sessions weekly at the Co-Curricular Activities Branch (CCAB) in Evans Road are disrupted once more.

Lieu Teck Hua, a blade runner, said: "We will continue training in the rain, unless there is lightning.

"Then, we will shift training indoors to the OCBC Arena. The place is not ideal and not fantastic but at least it's an alternative."

While the blade runners switch to training indoors, the wheelchair racers have also been seeking shelter to prepare for the APG.

The wheelchair athletes train on the roller, an equipment meant to simulate the movement of a wheelchair indoors by strapping the racing wheelchair to enable athletes to practise their pushing techniques while stationary.

Jacter Singh, the athletics coach for the physically disabled, said: "It (the rain) did hinder a bit of the preparation but we're just trying to do some catch-up here and there.

"Once the rain stops, we're out again on the track.

"It's just that we have to prolong our training session."

But while the team are coping with the disruption, the athletes still have not been able to train on and familiarise themselves with the National Stadium track, which will be the competition venue.

Said Lieu: "The track is totally different from the one at the CCAB where we train. The one at CCAB is soft whereas the National Stadium has a fast track, where the compound is harder.

"Athletes who use a fast track usually clock a faster time on that track so it would be good if we can get a feel and try out the track so as to minimise any surprises and be as well-prepared as possible on race day itself."

Wheelchair racer Jack Lai agreed, saying: "The track at CCAB is a little spongy so the wheelchair tends to sink in and it is harder to push."

However, he feels that it is not necessarily a disadvantage as tougher training conditions make it only easier for him to perform on race day as his body will be conditioned to putting in more effort.

As to whether unfamiliarity will affect performance, Jacter said: "If the athletes don't put in the effort, it makes no difference."

However, the coach hopes that his athletes will be given at least two training sessions to get used to the National Stadium track.

He said: "We are waiting for the green light or any kind of arrangements... But that day will come."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2015, with the headline 'HAZE CLEARS BUT RAIN NOW A DAMPENER'. Print Edition | Subscribe