Tragedy struck the Singapore International Triathlon yesterday at East Coast Park, with the death of a 42-year-old male competitor from Britain.
According to organisers, Stephen Begley encountered difficulty during the swim leg of the standard distance relay event, in which three team members respectively take on a 1.5km swim, a 36km cycle leg and a 10km run.
Begley was the designated swimmer of the team, while his friends Paul Molloy and Rob White were slated to cycle and run respectively.
The Straits Times understands that the incident happened just before 10am. The swimmer was taken ashore, where a medical crew administered CPR. He was later taken to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where he died.
At press time, the cause of death had yet to be determined.
When contacted in Britain yesterday, his brother Matt, 47, told The Straits Times that his sibling was an active sportsman who was born in Chatham, Kent and raised in the Isle of Sheppey, where their parents Jackie and Frank live. Begley was single, and he also had a sister, Claire, 48.
He used to be a professional rugby player and the sport had taken him to Scotland, Ireland and France between 1995 and 2005.
He moved to Singapore in December 2012 to work in the financial services field and in 2015, he joined St James' Place Wealth Management as an associate partner.
Matt said of his younger brother, who was 1.96m and weighed about 110kg: "Steve was a big man in stature and in personality. On the rugby field he was one of the guys that you could rely on when your back was against the wall.
"Off the field, he was probably the best son, brother, uncle or cousin that anyone could ask for. He would do anything to help his family, friends and even strangers.
"He had an infectious personality - memorable not just because of his physical size.
"To say that he will be missed does not even get near to describing the loss that our family and his broad circle of friends will feel."
Tributes poured in from others who knew him. His former rugby club, Glasgow Hawks, wrote in a Facebook message: "If you were in a hard match, he was the type of player you'd want in your side. He would never take a step back."
The Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS), which co-organised the race with Orange Room, said the stricken swimmer was attended to immediately.
The TAS released a statement yesterday, saying: "Immediate medical assistance and resuscitation was commenced at the event site. We also had a medical doctor with an automated external defibrillator and other medical equipment for resuscitation on site.
"(The competitor) was transported to SGH where he was treated. Sadly, he could not be revived despite resuscitation efforts."
Fellow participant Rosena Johnston, 46, who was at the start line before the beginning of her sprint race at 9.45am, saw medical personnel attending to Begley.
Organisers told the physiotherapist, along with other participants in the women's sprint category, that the start of their race would be delayed until 10am.
She said: "It was hard to see someone so unwell before I embarked on my first race. But I felt reassured because of how they dealt with the situation."
It was the second fatality at the event, after the death in 2009 of Singaporean Calvin Lee, 42.
He had drowned during the 1.5km relay swim leg, and an autopsy revealed that he had a previously undetected heart condition. Attempts to revive him using CPR and a defibrillator were not successful.