Singapore—Haze or no haze, the country’s premier athletes are busy getting ready for the upcoming SEA Games later this year. If needed, they will wear protective gear or move training to indoor venues, as they single-mindedly prepare for their athletic events.
According to The Straits Times (ST), while some athletic events have been cancelled due to the haze that has affected the air quality in Singapore in the past week, the athletes who are in preparation for this year’s Southeast Asian Games are unmoved by it.
The 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games are scheduled for November 30 to December 11 in the Philippines.
For Calvin Sim, a medal-winning cyclist, keeping his mind strong is of utmost importance.
Currently competing in Bandung, Indonesia since last week, he told ST, “Mentally, I can’t let it affect me.”
He said that so far, the haze has not affected him.
Mr Sim, age 29, won first place in the men’s omnium at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
For this year’s SEA Games he will be joining road racing events.
He also said that he has had to train in graver conditions in the past, like in 2013, wherein he cycled at a time when the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level was at 401, which is considered hazardous.
He said of that time, “I was serving national service then and was commuting home from Mandai to Hougang. You feel like you’re constantly smelling barbecue smoke, your eyes and throat get a bit irritated.”
But if 24-hour PSI level goes beyond the hazardous 300 level, Mr Sim will need to move his preparation indoors, whereupon he’d need to use a stationary bike. He trains six days a week for three hours a day.
However, the haze has caused some athletes to vary their routines somewhat.
Gold medalist for the high jump in 2017, Michelle Sng, told ST that in the past she has needed to train in indoor venues, or wear a mask during training, as she did four years ago.
Sometimes, training was even cancelled.
She told ST, “In 2015, when the haze hit us really bad, we wore masks for training. I might have to do it again this year if the haze situation worsens.”
The report also says that golfers have been told to put on masks and stay well hydrated, and that they continue to go on with their training.
Ross Tan, the president of the Singapore Golf Association, has said that should the PSI go beyond 200, a level that’s classified as “very unhealthy” then golfers would start training in indoor venues as well.
“This is not the first time we are facing a haze situation. In 2015-2016 when the PSI passed the 300 level, there were some days golf courses suspended play.
As of now, it is not a major concern. Everything is still pretty normal.”
For the dragon boat team, which trains at the Marina Channel and the Kallang Basin 4-6 times weekly, one option if the haze worsens is to practice in indoor pools, which the team is not too happy with.
According to Diana Nai, who is part of the women’s dragon boat team, “It is a less desirable training option because we will not be in a boat and it does not mirror competition conditions.
And we don’t have a racing course indoors that is 200m or 500m in length.” -/TISG