ST Run: Paralympian William Tan hopes to set the wheels in motion
Paralympian William Tan has recorded many firsts in his distinguished sporting career, and the 62-year-old yesterday notched another by becoming The Straits Times Run's first official wheelchair racer.
Tan, who raced in the inaugural ST Run in 2013 when the event did not have a wheelchair racing category, hopes his participation yesterday will encourage two groups of people: His fellow wheelchair racers and organisers of other events.
"I really hope more challenged athletes will take the courage to come forward (for future editions of) the ST Run," said Tan, who was the lone racer in his category.
"Many of them probably felt they had not trained enough for this event, so the response was not so encouraging.
"It would be wonderful if more can come forward - the number (of wheelchair racers) has dwindled over the years and I suppose we do feel discouraged when there are events (in Singapore) that don't include us and, over time, some athletes turn to other sports rather than continue wheelchair racing.
"I hope other organisers will follow suit and be inclusive."
Tan competed at the Paralympic Games in Seoul in 1988, the first year that Singapore participated at the Games. He is also the first local wheelchair racer to compete in the Gold Coast Marathon, racing in last year's edition.
In 2005, he made history by setting a world record as the first paraplegic to finish 10 marathons on seven continents in 70 days.
Tan was happy to be part of the 18.45km ST Run, which started at the Singapore Sports Hub and ended inside the National Stadium.
He said: "I know organisers had to go the extra mile to make the course accessible, and I feel very grateful. It's a very nice route along some of the iconic landmarks of Singapore, like Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer.
"Even though it's dark, it's still beautiful with the lights shining and it was an eye-opening view for me because I usually see these structures in the day."
The 2019 ST Run, now in its seventh year, drew more than 13,000 participants and even saw superheroes such as The Flash making an appearance. A female participant also celebrated her 42nd birthday yesterday by dressing up as Captain Marvel.
The runner, who wanted to be known only as J. Lee, ran the 10km race with five friends who were dressed as members of the Avengers.
Lee, who wore a Captain Marvel jersey and red gloves, was participating in the ST Run for the first time and is keen to return for next year's edition.
She said: "It's my birthday today, so my friends decided to have a theme and dress up to make the run more fun.
"The beginning part was a little confusing because the starting point was near the baggage deposit and there weren't clear lines.
"But, generally, everything else was okay."