Older and bolder

On a roll with inline skating

For more than 10 years, primary school teacher David Ng watched inline skaters speed past him in East Coast Park, wishing he could skate too.

But he held back. "It's the Asian mentality that after you hit 40, you are over the hill," the inline skating instructor, now 71, said with a laugh.

On the cusp of his 59th birthday, Mr Ng finally decided to change things - by buying himself a pair of inline skates as a birthday gift. He also enrolled in classes at Skateline, an inline skating shop and skate school.

"My instructors kept asking me, 'Uncle, are you sure you want to do this?' " he recalled. He was the oldest in class - other students ranged in age from seven to 20 years old.

After 21/2 years of skating for three or four days a week, Mr Ng reached an advanced level and became an instructor himself.

"People think that when you are old, you should just stick to taiji," he quipped. "My family told me to do something more sedate, but this inline skating is so exhilarating. It makes me feel young again."

He has even inspired some older people to take up inline skating lessons. "It's monkey see, monkey do," he joked. "People tell me they are too old to start skating, but then they see me and they think they can give it a try too."

Inline skating instructor Seet Choon Chuen, 53, and his son, Jonathan. PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

His fellow instructors are not that young either. In fact, Mr Seet Choon Chuen, 53, taught Mr Ng when he was a beginner.

Mr Seet, who works in sales, started inline skating in 2001 because he wanted to teach his then five-year-old son how to skate.

"It is so fulfilling to teach people and see them from the beginning, when they didn't know safety techniques, till now, when they can skate," he said. "As for Mr Ng, my old student, I feel so proud of him."

Another source of pride for Mr Seet is his son, Jonathan, now a 21-year-old undergraduate - he loves the sport so much, he hopes to join the inline skating club at Nanyang Technological University.

Parent-child bonding was also the reason Mr Philip Chan, 61, who is self-employed, took up the sport 11 years ago. "I couldn't let my seven-year-old skate alone," he said. He finds that the sport does him a world of good too.

"The sense of balance you cultivate while skating is so important when you are old."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'On a roll with inline skating'. Print Edition | Subscribe