Older and bolder

More drawn to adventure sports

Dr Reginald Teo, seen here skydiving in 2015, and Mrs Lisel Lee, who goes dragon-boating every weekend, are among older people who take part in adventure sports.
Dr Reginald Teo, seen here skydiving in 2015, and Mrs Lisel Lee, who goes dragon-boating every weekend, are among older people who take part in adventure sports.PHOTO: COURTESY OF REGINALD TEO, LISEL LEE
Dr Reginald Teo, seen here skydiving in 2015, and Mrs Lisel Lee, who goes dragon-boating every weekend, are among older people who take part in adventure sports.
Dr Reginald Teo, seen here skydiving in 2015, and Mrs Lisel Lee, who goes dragon-boating every weekend, are among older people who take part in adventure sports.PHOTO: COURTESY OF REGINALD TEO, LISEL LEE

A decade ago, Nanyang Technological University don Jacob Gan was invited by his students to join their adventure sports activities. Fast forward to today and the 67-year-old counts trekking to the Mount Everest base camp and Mount Kilimanjaro among his achievements.

Mr Lawrence Koh, 40, chief executive of indoor skydiving complex iFly Singapore, said that over the last six years, the number of older people in skydiving has increased by 10 per cent.

And Dr Reginald Teo, 56, a dental surgeon, said senior participation in sports such as skating and diving has gone up by 20 per cent over the last decade.

The former ice-skating judge took up scuba diving in 1985 and continues to dive today. "I love nature and it's a break from my daily job," he said. "I intend to keep going as long as I can because it keeps me on edge and keeps my senses sharp."

Meanwhile, others such as Mrs Lisel Lee participate in adventure sports for the community of like- minded friends. The 62-year-old takes part in dragon- boating every weekend with her team of breast-cancer survivors called Paddlers in the Pink. She is a survivor herself and took up the sport five years ago to keep fit. About half of the participants are over 50.

"My friends there are very encouraging and supportive," she said. "My health is the best gift to my family, so I want to build my strength."

Enthusiasts said rising affluence and education levels have helped older people to get into more unconventional sports. Ms Peh Kim Choo, director of the Tsao Foundation's Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing, added: "This is good news. It shows better health among our elders and an exciting shift in how ageing is experienced."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'More drawn to adventure sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe