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Running into silver years with a spring in their step

The Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers Club was founded by fitness fanatic Tan Kok Sing in 1977. Mr Tan, now 94, started the club to promote a healthy lifestyle and to deter young people in the neighbourhood from sniffing glue.
Members of the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers club jogging past pre-war houses in Tiong Bahru. Every Sunday, the group meets to walk and jog through the more striking parts of the estate.
Members of the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers club jogging past pre-war houses in Tiong Bahru. Every Sunday, the group meets to walk and jog through the more striking parts of the estate. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Mr Tan Kok Sing, 94, a great-grandfather, founded the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers club in 1977 because he saw jogging as a way to discourage youngsters in the area from sniffing glue.
Mr Tan Kok Sing, 94, a great-grandfather, founded the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers club in 1977 because he saw jogging as a way to discourage youngsters in the area from sniffing glue. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Above: Mr Tan with members of the jogging club on their route which features the iconic curved stair towers that make the area uniquely Tiong Bahru.
Above: Mr Tan with members of the jogging club on their route which features the iconic curved stair towers that make the area uniquely Tiong Bahru. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Above: Because of injuries Mr Tan sustained to both knees, he occasionally takes a bus to the end point of the route while waiting for the other joggers.
Above: Because of injuries Mr Tan sustained to both knees, he occasionally takes a bus to the end point of the route while waiting for the other joggers. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Above: The exterior of Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre before sunrise.
Above: The exterior of Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre before sunrise. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

I grew up in the Tiong Bahru area but only just found out about the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers club.

It was founded by fitness fanatic Tan Kok Sing in 1977, a year after I was born.

Mr Tan, now 94, started the club to promote a healthy lifestyle and to deter young people in the neighbourhood from sniffing glue.

His theory was that if they ran, they would not have time to indulge in vice.

The club has since evolved into a recreational running club for mostly elderly folk, who now also play basketball together six days a week.

Every Sunday, the group meets to walk and jog through the more striking parts of Tiong Bahru, an area that boasts a mix of pre-war and post-war architecture and the local market, which had a zinc roof when I was growing up.

And if the delights of Tiong Bahru are not enough on some days, club members will stretch their legs even more and go as far as Sentosa on their weekly workout.

 

Sporty regular Lee Tiang Chu, 75, says: "I play basketball six days a week, and jog and swim once a week. We can't be lazy, if not, Uncle Tan will go after us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Running into silver years with a spring in their step'. Print Edition | Subscribe