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Christina Tay
  • December 17th, 2005

What happens to an athlete when the years start to catch up and he can no longer keep the pace? Does he simply give up and quit? That’s exactly what used to happen some years back when the only alternatives open to those eager to stay involved in their sport were to either take up coaching or else a role in administration.

Times change and so too people’s perceptions. Today, a lot of emphasis is being made on the health benefits of staying physically active. As a result, the number of activities with the aim of involving those that the politically correct define as veterans are also increasing. Singapore Masters Athletics (SMA) is one of the many veteran associations taking up that role

We spoke to Christina Tay of Singapore Masters Athletics. Having joined SMA in 2000 aged 35, now 40 years old, she has not showed any signs of slowing down. This mother of 2, holds a fulltime job of a Finance Manager (fellow certified public accountant and holder of a Master degree), an athlete, cum helper to Mr Kannan who is the Secretary in the SMA is the epitome of driven ‘superwoman’. She co-ordinates runners for training, meeting and arrange of accomondation and registration, and has a wealth of of running years under her belt. A District competition in her youth. Ran for SAJC, 2nd in 400m hurdles and member of winning team for 4x100m and 4x400m relays in 1984. Later ran for NUS competed in Inter-University Games in Hong Kong. 2nd in 800m. Stopped, got married, have kids but still keep fit by regular jogs.

Christina Tay Profile

Came back in Year 2000, took part in many masters meets in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Y2002, Asian Masters Meet in Dalian, China, 2nd in 400m hurdles, 1st in 4x100m and 2nd in 4x400m (35 years age group)

Y2004, Asian Masters Meet in Bangkok, Thailand, 1st in 400m hurdles, 1st in 4x100m and 2nd in 4x400m (35 years age group)

  1. Tell us about the Masters participation level locally and regionally. Is there an increasing trend or a decline in numbers. Any figures perhaps?

    Masters athletes participate in track & field events and run roads organised by locally and regionally.

    Yearly, we go to Thai, Malaysia, Johore, Brunei, Sri Lanka Opens upon invitation.

    Some members also take part in the World Masters Indoor. Bi-annually, we will take part in the Asian Masters Meet, next one in Bangalore, India Y2006.

    Members are increasing, as we aged … no exact numbers available, of late some SAFSA, MR25, Red Hawk, Swift and HDB runners have joined us in our Meet.

    Oldest male members Mr Hari Chandra and Chan Meng Hui (regular marathon runner) age 75.

    Oldest female member is our President, Ms Glory Barnabas age 64 (former national sprint queen)

  2. What role does SMA (Spore Masters Athletics) play in promoting & providing support to master athletes. Is there any membership for a Masters to apply before he/she can start competing under SMA

    Mostly by word of mouth, forms for meets shall be circulated by existing members during SAA meets or amongst members ourselves.

    No need to apply, friendly style, sign up as participants with Kannan

  3. Which event is one of the more popular event when lets say a competition is being held. I’ve heard road races vs track/field is particularly more popular amongst veteran athletes as its one of the more easier sport to get into. There’s no pressure to win or of letting team-mates down. Well whats your opinion on this

    Depends on individual preferences, we will go for both, but Track and Field meet can attract more participants.

    During the last Asian Meet Y2004, we send a team of 42 members.

  4. How is an athlete considered a Masters athlete? Is there an age limit and is there a grading/ranking used in SMA

    Begins with 35 years for both female & male (formerly 40, this year starts 35)

    Usually, categorized by 5 years gap, e.g. 35-39;40-44;45-49;50-54;55-59;60-64;65-69;70-74…

  5. Whats the main factor for Masters athletes to still pound the tracks or hit the gym. whats the motivation behind all this.

    Stay competitively fit, as Age is no barrier…..

    Motivation: Enjoy company of people sharing same passion, regardless of race and religion

  6. I was told veteran/masters athletes have to pay their own expenses at times for meets, training trips overseas, entry fees. This would say alot about the Masters dedication to the sport. Can you share with us some other sacrifices made by Master athletes to stay in the sport

    Yes, all expenses by from our own pocket. But we try to get sponsors, if possible from SSC, or generous individuals and companies, then we will share some of this with our members.

    Guess, it is the passion that drives us on…

    Sacrifices includes: Unpaid Leave, high medical fee to treat injuries, attire, shoes, spikes, transport, training time… etc.

    Please note, satisfaction from the sports far out-weighed the so-called sacrifice.

  7. Masters athletics doesn’t get its fare share of limelight. What else do you think can be done to reach & get more Masters participants. What are SMA future plans & goals

    Perhaps, we need people like you to spread our name, Thanks in advance.

    Hope to get more recognition from SAA and SSC by getting more members and producing more results.

  8. Tell us the group of athletes under SMA. Some of the success stories or few of the athletes/people who made a big impact, not just medals but contributing to the local Masters athletics scene

    Namely, Ms Glory Barnabas, has been competiting since 35…currently still holds many of the Asian Masters record and won many medals.

    Also Ms Linda Oh, ‘live wire’ now 49 but runs like 19…won several gold runners for 100m, 200m and 400m, 4x100m

    And our secretary, Mr Kannan through thick and thin, he will be there for us.

    Ms Magaret Oh, our unofficial equipment supplier, currently the National coach for Women’s Relay Team, charges like a bull and never ‘say die’ very important member of relay team and good role model for youngsters (formerly national sprinter)

    Our new additions, Ms Phoon Pui Fun, such fun to have her around, strong and powerful, struck gold in Shot Put and Discus and 4x100m

    And of course, the man, Mr Tang Weng Fei, President of SAA, participated in 100m hurdles in the Asian Meet Y2004, really boosted our morale.

  9. Does SMA has any sponsors. Who runs SMA and how was it formed

    No sponsors, depending on meets.

    SMA is run by Glory and the main committee members, strong support from Kannan.

    Formerly known as Singapore Athletics Veteran Assn, founded by Mr Hari Chandra in 1977 (now advisor to SMA)

    Hari Chandra is in the World Masters Management Committee Glory Barnabas in the Asian Masters Women Rep. A. Kannan is the Asian Masters Technical Official.

  10. Can you leave a contact email or number for people who wish to contact SMA

    Can contact Mr Kannan at akannan23@hotmail.com

Thank your Christina for your participation

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Posted by Uncle Sha.
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