Young and old, thousands skate, swing and dance at the Sports Hub

DPM Lawrence Wong (right) and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong (centre) participate in a mass workout at the National Stadium on Aug 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
A performer breakdances at the OCBC Square on Aug 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
DPM Lawrence Wong started the Pesta Sukan basketball final with a ball toss at the OCBC Arena on Aug 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - At the Sports Hub on Sunday (Aug 7) evening, a group of people were observed defying gravity.

Whether it was swinging off steel pipes, whizzing on skateboards on a half-pipe or spinning on stage, they all appeared to be bending the laws of physics as they showcased their respective sports at the Urban Sports Fiesta.

The event was one of two that took place at the Sports Hub on Sunday to mark the end of this year's nine-day GetActive! Singapore campaign.

Urban sports like parkour, skateboarding, roller skating and street dancing were on display at the OCBC Square with Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing an attentive observer, while inside the National Stadium Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also Minister for Finance, and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong were among over 1,600 who took part in a mass workout.

After a National Day observance ceremony, Mr Wong, Mr Tong and the participants - from national athletes like Olympic fencer Amita Berthier and tennis player Shaheed Alam to sexagenarians - participated in a mass workout to the tune of this year's National Day song "Stronger Together".

Mr Wong was later ushered to the OCBC Arena where he started the Pesta Sukan basketball final with a ball toss.

The fitness enthusiasts who remained at the National Stadium were led by 60 instructors as they entered the Singapore Book of Records for the largest mass piloxing, fight do and KPopX fitness workouts.

Roy Teo, Sport Singapore's group chief of industry developments and special projects, said: "It was a wonderful sight to see so many people coming together to exercise and celebrate our nation's birthday."

The mass workout comes on the back of the Government's pledge to make the Sports Hub more accessible to Singaporeans though grassroot and community sports and lifestyle events.

One participant, Pat Neo, who is in her "late 50s", said: "Getting the chance to work out with other Singaporeans inside the National Stadium is very special."

Those at the OCBC Square, who were generally of a younger demographic, also relished the opportunity to strut their stuff.

Koh Chen Pin, a veteran of the local parkour scene, said: "We have been fighting the stigma of parkour being dangerous or reckless.

"Having an event here legitimises our sport, shows that it is accessible and that the Government recognises it and... hopefully we can continue to promote it in a positive light."

The 28-year-old, who has been doing parkour for 15 years, said that athletes typically practise at public buildings including housing board blocks and noted that "the architecture in Singapore is almost built for parkour".

Skateboarder Janiel Irishzan, 21, also enjoyed having the spotlight on his sport, with onlookers from the balcony of the Kallang Wave Mall watching him and other skaters pull off their moves.

The Republic Polytechnic engineering student, who typically skates at East Coast or Somerset, said: "I'm very hyped. It's very nice to have everyone cheering you on in the sport you love doing."

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing (seated, centre) observes the Urban Fiesta event at the OCBC Square on Aug 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Janiel said urban sports like skateboarding sometimes have a "bad rep", but hopes that more showcases like the one at the Sports Hub can change that and help the sport grow.

"I hope to represent Singapore in skateboarding one day," he added.

Urban sports like skateboarding, sports climbing and BMX freestyle made their debut at the Tokyo Olympics last August.

Locally, they are also being embraced and earlier this week, national agency Sport Singapore announced it will upgrade its ActiveGroove Club to feature a street dance programme - which includes the sport of breaking which will make its bow at the 2024 Olympic in Paris - which will be launched in September.

It is believed to be the first time SportSG will have a structured programme for a non-traditional sport. The club is part of ActiveSG's family of academies and clubs.

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