Defying age barriers at world track and field championship

  • The Masters Athletic Championships is much more than just winning medals and breaking records.Ā 
  • These athletes, mostly thought to have past their prime, are showing younger counterparts ā€œgot nothing on themā€.
  • Thirteen masters athletes from Singapore, aged between 35 and 75, will be competing in Tampere, Finland for the next 13 days from today (29 June).
Team Singapore at Ratina Stadion in Tampere, Finland to prove that age is a mere number. (Photo source: Belinda Foo/Facebook)
Team Singapore at Ratina Stadion in Tampere, Finland to prove that age is a mere number. (Photo source: Belinda Foo/Facebook)

There is no letting up as they just came off the two-day Singapore Masters Track & Field Association (SMTFA) International Masters Track & Field Championships early June, continuing to defy age barriers.

These 13 Singapore athletes, the youngest at 35 and the oldest 75, flew off on 27 June to take part in the World Masters Athletics in Tampere, Finland.

They will be competing against contemporaries from 86 countries, including India and Australia.

Defying age barriers at world track and field championship
The 13 athletes getting a grand send-off at Changi Airport by friends and members of SMTFA (Photo courtesy of Belinda Foo)

SMTFA to build a community of older athletes

SMTFA was formed in July 1977 to cater to Masters athletes, especially the competitive needs of sports-minded people who wanted to compete in age appropriate Track and Field events. This is done through progressive training and the building of camaraderie.

The objective of the club is to provide opportunities for age-appropriate activity in track and field for persons aged 30 and above. It also encourages former athletes, recreational runners, gym members and other fitness buffs to participate in track and field events. This way, it decelerates the rate of inevitable physical degeneration through regular, vigorous physical activity.

Team Singapore at the World Masters Athletics in Tampere, Finland

The World Masters Athletics Tampere 2022, scheduled from today (29 June) until 10 July, is a world championship event for track and field athletes aged 35 years and above. Although this competition is open to all athletes, with no qualification standards, with the exception that they must be members of their respective national organisations.

World Masters Athletics Championships have been held by 18 different nations and 23 cities world-wide since its inception in Toronto in 1975. But due to the Covid19 pandemic, the last championships were held in MĆ”laga 2018.Ā 

This June, out of the 13 members of Team Singapore participating, three are 75 years old but they are not exactly frail.Ā 

Defying age barriers at world track and field championship
Mr Kannan Arumugam, 75, set a record in the 50km walk at the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games, now known as the SEA Games, in 1969. (Photo source: Kannan Arumugam/Facebook)

Mr Kannan Arumugam, who is popularly known as a serial sportsman, will be taking part in the 5000m Track Walk. The other 75-year-old is wine consultant John Chua. He will be taking on both the 80m and 300m hurdles.

The third is Ms Petchay Kandasamy, who won gold in February this year when she participated in the World Masters Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat, Oman in March. This time round, she is running the 100m and 200m.

Defying age barriers at world track and field championship
Madam Petchay Kandasamy (left) took gold in the World Athletics Race Walk Team Championship in Oman just this February. (Photo source: Samuel Veera Singaram/Facebook)

But they are not the oldest in the competition. Australia is sending 96-year-old Maurice Dauphinet and his runner wife Christiane, 91.

The ā€œbabiesā€ of the Singapore team are coaches Muhammad Shah Feroz Moheden and Toh Wei De. Mr Muhammad Shah is taking part in the 800m event while Mr Toh in discuss.

Honorary secretary of SMTFA Belinda Foo tells TheHomeGround Asia that the event will be broadcast live on YouTube.

Ms Foo, 57, was herself a former sportswoman.Ā She was the Under 19 Squash Champion in 1982. She represented Singapore in the Asian Junior Championships in 1983 and the East Asian Championships in 1984, bringing home the gold medal both times.

She will be taking part in the Heptathlon, a sporting event competed with a combination of running, jumping, and throwing events. She will be participating in the 100m hurdles, running 200m and 800m, high jump, long jump, shot put and the javelin throw.

Ms Belinda Foo in her element during the two-day SMTFA International Masters Track & Field Championships on 4 and 5 June. (Photo source: Belinda Foo/Facebook)

Posting on her Facebook page, Ms Foo wrote, ā€œAfter four long years (since Malaga 2018), the World Masters Athletics Championships are finally here – this time in Tampere, Finland. Wonderful to be here with Team SG and fellow athletes all over the world! Looking forward to the next few days of intense competition & fun!ā€

You may watch the competition live on YouTube here.

Join the conversations on TheHomeGround Asiaā€™s Facebook and Instagram, and get the latest updates via Telegram.




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