Athletics: $50,000 on offer in new running series

Organisers hope Cross Country GP's prizes will attract elite and recreational athletes

The Grand Prix will begin with a 5km race at Punggol Waterway on July 1. PHOTO: ST FILE

After years of being dormant, Flash Athletic Club has returned to the local running scene in a big way.

Last December, it had unveiled plans for a series of cross country runs and yesterday it announced the launch of its three-leg Cross Country Grand Prix, which will offer $50,000 in prize money.

This comes after Flash, one of Singapore's oldest track and field clubs, received $300,000 in sponsorship from Safrag Venture Capital, a Singapore-registered start-up.

The Grand Prix will begin with a 5km race at Punggol Waterway on July 1, followed by a 7km race at Gardens by the Bay on Sept 2. It will conclude with a 12km race at MacRitchie Reservoir on Oct 21.

Flash president Edmond Pereira said he was thrilled to usher in a new era. He hopes Flash, which had been inactive for several years, will be granted affiliate status with Singapore Athletics (SA) again.

The club produced some of Singapore's top athletes including former national sprinters Muhammad Hosni and Haron Mundir and pole-vaulter Ng Kean Mun.

Pereira said: "We're back. We have a long history and in the past, we had some of the best athletes in the country.

"(SA) must know that we are part of the system and they must not ignore us."

The 67-year-old lawyer, who had contested and lost to SA president Ho Mun Cheong in last June's election, added that the recent infighting among the SA management has cast a shadow over the sport.

Pereira said: "It's unfortunate that in the past few months, the focus on athletics was perhaps lost and misplaced amid the transition (from the old to new committee after last year's election).

"The sport is in dire need of excitement. We want to get everyone excited about athletics and make the scene more vibrant. On a club level, we want to build champions from the ground up."

There will be six categories for the Grand Prix, including the men's and women's open, veteran (over 50 years old) and junior (from 16 to 21).

The overall winners after the three legs will receive $5,000 for the first four divisions and $500 for the two junior classes.

In comparison, the top local marathoner collected $10,000 at last year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, while the Sundown Marathon in March offered $500 to the winners.

Pereira hopes the lucrative cash rewards at the Grand Prix will draw 1,000 elite and recreational runners in total.

National middle-distance runner Raviin Kumar was hopeful the newly-launched series would unearth new talent. The 27-year-old said: "I think this series will draw a mixed pool of runners. The distance does not limit (participation) to just elite long-distance runners.

"You could see marathoners come down while middle-distance runners will step up.

"It's going to be like a meeting point for everyone. There could be surprise winners as well."

Next year will be Flash's 50th anniversary and Pereira said there are plans to add further events like sprints to future Grands Prix.

He said: "This is just a teaser to build up towards next year."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline Athletics: $50,000 on offer in new running series. Subscribe