Athletics: Protocols in place 'adequate', but Singapore Athletics looking at ways to improve safety

A 50-year-old man collapsed on March 19 during the 5,000m walk at the SA All Comers Meet 2 at the Home of Athletics. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

SINGAPORE - National track and field body Singapore Athletics (SA) is exploring ways to enhance its risk assessment and medical protocols for its events following the death of a participant at one of its meets, even after an internal review found that those in place then were "adequate".

A 50-year-old athlete, Lim Boon Huat, had collapsed during the 5,000m walk at the SA All Comers Meet 2 at the Home of Athletics on March 19. He was attended to and then sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he died.

In response to queries, SA acting general manager Shalindran Sathiyanesan said the association had "conducted a review of our existing medical and emergency procedures for events and have found these to be adequate" and current level of medical support for its events "sufficient".

He noted that the athlete was attended to immediately by on-site medics trained in the use of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator and an ambulance had arrived soon after to rush Lim to a hospital.

While SA will continue to perform a thorough risk assessment before every event, added Shalindran, it has also sought support from Sport Singapore (SportSG) for an ad hoc review of its risk assessment matrix.

SA will also send some of its secretariat staff for a course on risk management in sport.

"As an additional safeguard, we are also introducing multiple layers of on-site checks on the participants' fitness status," Shalindran said.

"Technical officials will ask participants whether they are feeling well and OK to compete, at various times before they commence competition, for example during registration, at the call room and before the athletes start their respective events.

"To improve pre-participation screening, we are also evaluating and will be consulting SportSG on the implementation of the requirement for all Masters athletes (35 years old and above) to attest that they have completed the Get Active Questionnaire (GAQ) provided by SportSG, at least on an annual basis."

He added that SA takes the well-being of its athletes and officials seriously, and pledged it would continue to review procedures to ensure their safety.

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