Sports Hub: Parkour gaining traction despite speed bumps

A parkour enthusiast clearing an obstacle at the Lion City Gathering. A competition featuring professional parkour artists will be held today.
A parkour enthusiast clearing an obstacle at the Lion City Gathering. A competition featuring professional parkour artists will be held today.PHOTO: SINGAPORE SPORTS HUB

The acrobatic urban sport of Parkour is slowly building its profile here, as local practitioners work towards getting official recognition for their sport.

Developed in France in the late 1980s, parkour practitioners aim to get from one point to another in the fastest possible way, clearing obstacles by running, jumping and climbing. Parkour is typically practised in urban environments.

Yesterday, the six-month-old Parkour Singapore kicked off its first officially-sanctioned event - the Lion City Gathering 2017 - at the Singapore Sports Hub, as one of the peripheral activities for Community Play Day, a quarterly sports carnival.

"It's definitely a good opportunity working with Sports Hub, as we get a lot of awareness for parkour," said the event's main organiser Koh Chen Pin, 23.

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The group held workshops at the beginner and intermediate levels for interested participants yesterday, and also provided public demonstrations.

There will be a competition today, featuring professional parkour artists.

Previously, the local parkour fraternity had faced difficulty in obtaining permits from the Housing Board and town councils to practise in neighbourhoods.

Said Koh: "Singapore is well known among the global parkour community... but it was quite inconvenient when people flew all the way here only to get chased out when trying to do parkour. There are a lot of restrictions."

To address this obstacle, members of the local parkour community decided to register as an official association under the Societies Act last December.

"We don't want to tarnish parkour's reputation by practising illegally," said Koh, who has been practising parkour for 10 years.

Yesterday's event was an encouraging start. Said Chin Sau Ho, the Sports Hub's senior director (corporate communications and stakeholder management): "We want to support interest groups where there's potential for growth."

Looking ahead, Koh said discussions are underway with SportSG about building Singapore's first parkour park.

"It's still early, but what we've heard sounds positive," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 18, 2017, with the headline 'Parkour gaining traction despite speed bumps'. Print Edition | Subscribe