S'pore sports calendar comes alive with swimming, cycling, football in Nov, Dec

Singapore’s Irfan Fandi (second from left) and Thailand’s Pansa Hemviboon during the Asean Federation Football Suzuki Cup in 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The year is winding down but Singapore's sporting calendar is just coming alive with a slew of local and international events lined up in the next few weeks.

At least 10 events across sports like athletics, swimming, cycling and football are set to take place here in the next four weeks in an exciting period for sports fans and enthusiasts.

With Singapore seeing a wave of tightening and relaxing of Covid-19 measures over the last six months, the last time fans had such a packed sports calendar was last December, when eight events were held in a week for the first time since the pandemic.

With restrictions easing from Monday (Nov 22), the fraternity can look forward to more events in upcoming weeks.

One of the first events taking place is the Nov 25-28 Singapore National Swimming Championships (Short Course) 2021 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

While national swimmer Amanda Lim is disappointed that spectators are not allowed, she is excited to be racing again and possibly travelling overseas to compete. Her last competition was the long-course SNSC in June.

Only the top 20 swimmers per event per gender have been invited to the meet, which is also a qualifier for the Dec 16-21 Fina Swimming World Championships 2021 (Short Course Metres) in Abu Dhabi.

"The past two years have been like a blur for me but there's some end in sight for me like I see competitions being held overseas so I can train for them. It's not like last year when there was no direction," said Lim, 28, who will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.

"I hope spectators will be allowed soon because as a sporting nation, it's not just about the competitors. It's not just our journey, it's theirs as well so having them there supporting us will be a huge step forward."

Weekend warriors can look forward to an urban mountain bike race on Nov 27 and the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon's (SCSM) in-person grand finale from Dec 4 to 5.

The OCBC Cycle National Championships Urban MTB Cross-Country - Individual Time Trial will see 147 riders across 19 categories in three waves, with 50 athletes in each wave.

Amateur cyclist Michael Chang is excited about competing in his first race this year and is willing to do whatever it takes to be at the starting line, even if it means taking two antigen rapid tests (ARTs).

The finance director, 50, said: "It has become the norm so we just have to accept it and live with it. There's a lot of pent-up demand so I'm sure those who get the slots to race will be more than willing to accommodate and fulfil the requirements."

All the events require participants to be fully vaccinated and/or a valid negative ART or pre-event test.

Other safe management measures will also be in place, such as limiting the number of people in the venue at one time and spacing competitors apart in holding areas.

Chang added that for recreational athletes like himself, races are a form of motivation as they give him something to work towards.

He said: "You do want to test yourself against your peers and I race to understand what my levels and limits are so that I don't over-exert myself.

"The only thing is there might not be a carnival for the community like previously which was a lot of fun. But I hope they will come back because I miss them."

Avid runner Paul Martin, who will be competing in his eighth SCSM, is also looking forward to being part of a mass run again when he lines up for the 10km event on Dec 5.

"It's exciting because the atmosphere is totally different. In a mass race, there's a little more hype and excitement and you feel like you really want to give it your best shot," said Martin, 41, who works in the service industry.

One of the highly-anticipated spectator events is the Dec 5-Jan 1 Asean Federation Football Suzuki Cup at the National Stadium.

While the Football Association of Singapore have not confirmed the number of fans allowed for games, national team head coach Tatsuma Yoshida said the fans' support "will be a big motivation for us".

Lions player Jacob Mahler said: "It's a good feeling to have the fans back. All of us players miss that. Playing in an empty stadium is a weird feeling for us. It's a step in the right direction for us to live our normal lives again."

Mixed martial arts fans can also catch a One Championship fight in the coming months as it will be part of a trial to allow for relaxed safe management measures at selected events.

Singapore Cycling Federation president Hing Siong Chen reckons the local sports scene will see more events being held next year as vaccination rates increase and border measures are relaxed.

He said: "Everyone is seeing light at the end of the tunnel, not just in sports but across the whole spectrum, there's reason to feel that some normality is coming back and that's something to look forward to next year."


Upcoming sports events (selected)

Athletics

Singapore Athletics 2021 All Comers Meet 5: Nov 27-28, Home of Athletics

- Five competitors per heat

- Maximum of 100 people allowed in the venue at one time, split into two zones of 50 each

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in-person grand finale: Dec 4-5, The Float @ Marina Bay

- Four sessions split over two days with 1,000 people per session

Cycling

OCBC Cycle National Championships 2021 Urban MTB Cross-Country - Individual Time Trial: Nov 27, Singapore Sports Hub

- 147 riders to compete in three waves, seated 2m apart in the holding area

E-sports

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M3 World Championship: Dec 6-19, venue to be announced*

Football

AFF Suzuki Cup: Dec 5-Jan 1, National Stadium*

Mixed martial arts

One Championship's Winter Warriors: Dec 3, Singapore Indoor Stadium*

Swimming

Singapore National Swimming Championships Short Course: Nov 25-28, OCBC Aquatic Centre

- Only the top 20 swimmers per event per gender are invited

SPH Foundation National Inclusive Swimming Time Trial 2021: Nov 23, Our Tampines Hub

- All 20 participants, down from 111 in 2019, are to be fully vaccinated

Table tennis

World Table Tennis event: first week of December, OCBC Arena*

Weightlifting

Singapore National Weightlifting Championship 2021: Dec 4-5, Bedok Sports Hall

- Split into eight sessions across two days with fewer than 12 competitors per session

Unless otherwise stated, all events listed will be held behind closed doors. It has yet to be announced if spectators will be allowed for the e-sports and table tennis events.

Covid-19 protocols for each event require participants to be fully vaccinated and/or produce a valid negative antigen rapid test or pre-event test.

Other safe management measures will also be in place, such as limiting the number of people in the venue at one time and spacing competitors apart in holding areas.

*Spectator numbers and safety protocols to be announced

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