Athletics: Singapore Athletics loses apparel sponsor

Sprinter Shanti Pereira competing in 2XU gear at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in August. The apparel retailer is terminating its sponsorship of Singapore Athletics ahead of the previously agreed tenure till next year. Below: Soh Rui Yong on his way
Sprinter Shanti Pereira competing in 2XU gear at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in August. The apparel retailer is terminating its sponsorship of Singapore Athletics ahead of the previously agreed tenure till next year.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Premature termination as Australian brand opts to pull out of its second three-year deal

Beleaguered national sports association Singapore Athletics (SA) has recently been dealt another setback after Australian sporting apparel brand 2XU terminated its sponsorship with the association.

The Straits Times understands that SA officials were told of the decision on Dec 8 by representatives from local distributor Key Power International.

It is also understood, based on documents seen by ST, that one of the reasons cited is that 2XU were displeased that national marathoner Soh Rui Yong had cut holes in his singlet for the SEA Games marathon in August. 2XU provided the national track and field athletes' attire for the 29th Games in Kuala Lumpur.

When contacted, SA president Ho Mun Cheong told ST the association was currently looking for new sponsors.

He added: "Sometimes these things are beyond our control, we can hope for sponsorships but we can't demand too much."

SA and Key Power International, which imports sports apparel from brands like 2XU and American running company Brooks, had inked a three-year sponsorship deal - worth about $150,000 in kind annually - in 2013.


Soh Rui Yong on his way to winning marathon gold in the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, with holes visible in his singlet. 2XU were displeased that the athlete had cut holes in it, despite his explanation that it was to help him cope with heat and humidity during the race. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/RUNSOHFAST

It was the association's biggest apparel sponsorship deal to date.

The agreement saw national athletes provided with apparel from both brands for events including the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar and the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

The deal was renewed from 2016 to 2018 and had a total value of more than $300,000 - also in kind - with 2XU providing attire for Singapore's track and field athletes over the last two years.

Responding to queries from ST, a 2XU Singapore representative said on Dec 13: "2XU Singapore have fully enjoyed working with SA and supporting Singapore sport.

"Following a strategic evaluation earlier this year, 2XU Singapore have decided not to continue sponsorship of SA in 2018 and beyond."

The representative added that the brand would continue to support Singapore's sportsmen and women through local events including marathons, triathlons and other fitness initiatives.

RUNNING INTO TROUBLE

Following a strategic evaluation earlier this year, 2XU Singapore have decided not to continue sponsorship of SA in 2018 and beyond.

2XU representative, explaining the background to their decision.

Soh had retained his SEA Games marathon crown this year while wearing a running vest with holes cut in it, and had told the media after the race that he had cut the holes for ventilation purposes.

According to the 26-year-old, he had asked for singlets with holes lasered in them to help him cope with the heat and humidity in the Malaysian capital, but was told this was not possible owing to a lack of technology.

Soh also alleged that his decision to cut holes into his running singlet had angered SA's technical director Volker Herrmann, and that the incident resulted in the latter shouting at him before the start of the SEA Games marathon race.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2017, with the headline 'SA loses apparel sponsor'. Print Edition | Subscribe