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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Teen dies after match

Vincent Tan, a first-year IT student at Nanyang Polytechnic, had picked up the sport only a year ago. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE TAN FAMILY

IT WAS only his second taekwondo competition and 17-year-old Vincent Tan was fighting an opponent two belt levels above him.

Barely a minute into the sparring match last Sunday, his slighter-built opponent, who had a brown belt, gave Tan a kick in the neck which ruptured a main blood vessel to his brain.

Tan, who held a green belt, was seen fumbling with his head guard for a few seconds before tumbling onto the ground.

First aid was immediately given to him, but he never gained consciousness. He died on Thursday afternoon in hospital.

The polytechnic student's death has now prompted the People's Association (PA) to suspend all taekwondo competitions while it reviews the procedures usually undertaken in such events.

'We are reviewing our processes to see if any improvements need to be made. In the meantime, we have suspended all taekwondo competitions pending the review,' said a PA spokesman. The police are also investigating.

PA said the competition, held at the Kampong Kembangan Community Club, was organised by the Greenville Residents' Committee and Singapore Taekwondo Gymnasium (STG). It had attracted more than 180 participants and was scheduled to run from 9am to 9pm, but was later cancelled.

All participants were required to wear safety gear, including head guards, and were given a safety briefing before their bouts.

PA said Tan lost consciousness at about 9.30am, and certified first aid workers from St John Ambulance Brigade, Alexandra Hospital and the Red Cross immediately attended to him while an emergency ambulance was called. He reached Changi General Hospital about 20 minutes later, with Vivian in the ambulance.

His distraught mother, Madam Nur Julia, said she cannot accept her only son's death and wants answers from the organisers.

~武德为首, Martial Art Virtue comes first

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