NSAs keen to carry baton forward

SEEING 10,000 spectators inside the National Stadium on the first day of the SEA Games athletics competition was an eye-opener for Singapore Athletics (SA) president Tang Weng Fei.

With this level of interest from Singaporeans, he thought his association can explore the possibility of staging other major events here.

SA will host the Asia Masters Athletics Championships next May but he believes that, with a world-class facility like the $1.33-billion Sports Hub, bigger meets such as the Asian Athletics Championships or the World Junior Championships could be on the horizon.

GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

The SEA Games showed us there is a high level of interest in track and field, and if you have big Asian stars coming down to compete, we could get even bigger crowds.

- Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei

He said: "Based on our abilities, we can definitely handle these two events. The SEA Games showed us there is a high level of interest in track and field, and if you have big Asian stars coming down to compete, we could get even bigger crowds.

"All this will help develop the sport here and carry on this momentum."

It is a sentiment shared by various national sports associations (NSAs) keen to tap into the buzz generated by the recently-concluded Games, which saw many full and bustling competition venues across Singapore.

The Government noted yesterday that, given the Republic's current infrastructure, hosting larger multi-sport competitions such as the Asian and Commonwealth Games was unlikely.

The onus is therefore on the NSAs to be pro-active and organise high-level competitions that continue to whet local appetites.

BOWLING OVER FANS

When our new bowling centre at Temasek Club is ready by the end of the year, we will seriously look at holding a top-tier tournament that will excite local fans.

- Singapore Bowling Federation vice-president Robin Yap

Said Singapore Bowling Federation vice-president Robin Yap: "It's vital that we continue to increase public interest.

"When our new bowling centre at Temasek Club is ready by the end of the year, we will seriously look at holding a top-tier tournament that will excite local fans."

Fencing Singapore will host the six-day Asian Fencing Championships next week, on the back of its three-gold haul at the SEA Games.

Said the association's president Juliana Seow: "The bidding process is a long and complicated one but we are definitely keen to host more international events in the future."

Singapore may boast international events like tennis' WTA Finals and Formula One's Singapore Grand Prix, both of which have multi-year deals inked.

The concern, however, is the lack of local athletes for the casual event-goer to identify with at these two elite events.

The Netball World Championship and Table Tennis Women's World Cup, both held here in 2011, as well as August's World Junior Swimming Championships, may fit the bill in featuring local sportsmen competing against top global talents.

However, they are all one-off events.

What is needed for sports events to be viable to NSAs is longevity, such as badminton's Singapore Open.

The annual Super Series event not only draws a world-class field that is attractive for fans, but also allows spectators to connect with their homegrown heroes, even inspiring them.

Said world No. 51 Derek Wong who has taken part in six Opens since 2010: "With friends and family coming down, there's that extra burst of energy and I always give it my best."

Added SA's Tang: "Our athletes have raised the bar with their performances at the SEA Games. Hopefully, we can do the same and bring in bigger events and keep the excitement alive."

jonwong@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Lok Weng Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'NSAs keen to carry baton forward'. Print Edition | Subscribe