Sport gives firms a way to support causes: Fu

Participants running past the Singapore Flyer just after the flag-off for the Great Eastern Women's Run 21.1km event, which was won by North Korean Kim Ji Hyang.
Participants running past the Singapore Flyer just after the flag-off for the Great Eastern Women's Run 21.1km event, which was won by North Korean Kim Ji Hyang.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

More companies should step forward to raise funds for good causes through sports, urged Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

She cited yesterday's Great Eastern Women's Run (GEWR) as an example. It attracted 17,000 participants from all walks of life and raised $120,000 for the Breast Cancer Foundation, Community Chest and SingHealth Duke-NUS OBGYN (obstetrics and gynaecology) Academic Clinical Programme.

"We'd also like to see that more corporates step up to not just promote healthy living but also a good social cause," said Ms Fu, who spoke on the sidelines of the event.

"So, in this case, with the efforts of the runners and Great Eastern, we've managed to raise a substantial amount for three charities.

"I think this is a wonderful idea - a collaboration of people, corporate and social sector.

"So we hope more will come forward so that Singaporeans will enjoy an active lifestyle and do social good for the country as well."

Prior to the event, race-goers could pledge a minimum donation of $5 and they would be given a tutu - gamely worn by many runners yesterday morning.

Ms Fu also joined in the fun at the 10th edition of the GEWR. She donned a blue tutu, then flagged off and took part in the 10km run.

The run was especially meaningful for breast cancer survivor Irene Chui and her friends, as their dragon boat team-mate Ritta Teo succumbed to the disease in April.

"We want to show that cancer is not a death sentence. When you see us walk and survive, we want people to know that there's life even after breast cancer," said Chui, 50.

Starting from as early as 5.30am, three waves of runners - in the 21.1km, 10km and 5km categories - set off from the Singapore Flyer, and ran past landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay, before finishing at the Marina Bay floating platform.

It was a memorable first visit to the Republic for North Korean Kim Ji Hyang, for she was the first to cross the finish line in the 21.1km Elite Open category, topping the field of 15 who included five Singaporeans. She won the top cash prize of US$8,000 (S$11,205).

Kim clocked 1hr 12min 53sec, finishing ahead of Japanese Yuko Watanabe, 28, (1:16.01) and fellow North Korean Sin Yong Sun (1:17:06).

Vivian Tang, 45, was the top Singaporean finisher (10th) in 1:28.37.

Kim, 18, said: "I'm happy to be able to bring home the gold medal for my people and my leader (Kim Jong Un)."

But her compatriot Sin, 25, alleged that Watanabe had skipped a part of the race route at the Marina Barrage. However, organisers later overruled the protest because eyewitnesses and speed checkpoints did not corroborate the North Korean's claims.

She was then told to take the matter to the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA), the sanctioning body for the race.

Event organiser Infinitus' director Jeffrey Foo explained: "We based our decision on facts. We did our checks and our speed points at the barrage picked up the readings of all three leading runners who went up and came down.

"The SAA is aware of this issue and will review it."

But it was a smooth outing for the participants, who enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow runners on a haze-free morning.

"Running in a single-gender race feels fun and comfortable, it's not so cramped and there's less jostling for space," said Ida Ang, 52, a customer service executive.

For the first time, girls between the ages of three and nine also joined in the activities, in a new 100m Princess Dash.

Tuition teacher Tan Wan Chin, 36, who paired up with her six-year-old daughter, said: "It's an exciting experience for them (the girls) - a fun run - and a good mother-daughter bonding time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Sport gives firms a way to support causes: Fu'. Print Edition | Subscribe