By Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports. Photos by Lai Jun Wei and Tan Jon Han/Red Sports
Clara Wong crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour 10 minutes 22 seconds. (Photo 1 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
East Coast Park, Singapore, Saturday, March 4, 2012 — Clement Chow and Clara Wong were the top Singaporean man and woman respectively at the 2012 Singapore Biathlon. Clement finished second in the Men’s Open category while Clara won the Women’s Open by a margin of almost four minutes.
The 2011 men’s winner, Dylan McNiece, successfully defended his title in a time of 55 minutes 12 seconds. Clara clocked 1 hour 10 minutes 22 seconds.
The 18-year-old Clara had finished third in last year’s race. She, however, managed to win the competition on her second try.
She said: “I’m glad that even after a major examination [the GCE ‘A’ Levels], I am still able to do well in a major competition. I did not expect to come in first. I was actually quite afraid of the newcomers and Caucasian athletes. I did not want to underestimate them so I just tried to do what I could.”
Clara had commenced training right after her second last GCE ‘A’ Levels exam in November 2011. This time around, she spent more time on running rather than swimming. In particular, she focused more on long distance running to help boost her performance. In Clara’s previous races, she would perform well in the swim but see her competitors catch up in the run.
She said: “I was actually quite anxious that someone would catch up. I kept thinking that I was the enemy so I just continued running at my own pace.”
This year, competitors had to face slightly tougher conditions in the swim segment as they were swimming against the current on the return. On top of that, there was a route change from last year as runners headed east towards the National Service Resort & Country Club rather than west as a result of the OCBC Cycle Singapore event taking place in the area.
Clara was not perturbed by the route change. She said: “The waters were calmer than I expected. I had this strategy: if (the waves) were going against me, I will try to swim towards it so that I won’t be swept off course.
“I really thought that we would be competing on the old route but I found out about the change online. So I spent the past three days recceing the new route. As it is only one lap, it was slightly different because (on the old route with two laps), I could see where my competitors were. (But this year on the run route), I was actually pacing some elderly cyclists for one part of my run. It was actually quite fun.”
In the Masters category, Richard Parkinson won the men’s title. 45-year-old Dai Matsui, first runner-up of the Men’s Master race, said: “This is my first time participating in the Singapore Biathlon. I am a professional triathlete and decided to join the race this year as part of my training. The biggest obstacle for me was the long distance running, but I’m glad I managed to overcome it.”
More than 2,200 participants competed in the 12th edition of the Singapore Biathlon held at East Coast Park this morning.
Some 73 fathers also participated in the inaugural Dads For Life Father and Child Relay to bond with their children aged seven to 15 years old. This unique non-competitive category featured a 200m swim by the fathers followed by an 800m run to the finish line together.
For 15 of these fathers who also competed in the Open and Masters categories in the morning, the event was an ideal opportunity to share their passion for the sport with their family and kids as many arrived early to cheer them on before the relay.
Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for Defence and President of SAFRA, graced the event as the Guest-of-Honour and flagged off the Men’s Open category at 8.15am.
Mr Wong said: “The Singapore Biathlon has grown to be an established event in the sports calendar. Through such races, our NSmen get to compete alongside top athletes and be motivated to continue engaging in active lifestyles to keep themselves physically fit throughout their National Service. It also provides them with opportunities to bond and to foster stronger camaraderie with their NS mates when they train and compete together.”
Colonel Tan Tai Tiong, chairman of the Organising Committee for Singapore Biathlon 2012, added: “When Singapore Biathlon was first introduced, there were not many endurance events in Singapore. Over the years, the sports scene has grown. The Organising Committee is heartened to note the strong support for Singapore Biathlon over the years. This indicates the confidence of this niche sporting event in the national sports calendar.”
The Singapore Biathlon 2012 is jointly organised by SAFRA and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). The event comprises four competitive categories — Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Men’s Masters and Women’s Masters, each featuring a 1.5km swim followed by a 10km run. The Dads For Life Father and Child Relay was introduced this year as part of SAFRA’s partnership with the Dads For Life movement to promote active fatherhood among NSmen.
Results (top three only)
1. Dylan McNiece — 55 minutes 12 seconds
2. Clement Chow — 1 hour 03 minutes 11 seconds
3. Foo Gen Lin — 1:04:41
1. Clara Wong — 1:10:22
2. Angie Tan — 1:14:10
3. Marie Leautey — 1:15:50
1. Richard Parkinson — 1:08:31
2. Dai Matsui — 1:10:57
3. Low Han Keat — 1:13:35
1. Karen Kay Rayle — 1:14:49
2. Itsuko Tanaka — 1:15:25
3. Joanne Mak — 1:26:08
Dylan McNeice emerging from the sea after 19 minutes 53 seconds. (Photo 2 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
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