‘Why does tower runner need RM4m?’

Soh Wai Ching

A tower runner has taken a peer to task for wanting to raise US$1 million (about RM4 million) in her quest to conquer 30 towers, saying the money will be better spent on Malaysian sports.

World No. 5 and Asian No. 1 Soh Wai Ching said he was baffled when he read about Honorary Major Dr Suwaibah Muhammad Nasir intending to raise the amount, adding that her humanitarian mission was more of a “personal affair”.

It was reported that Suwaibah needs US$1 million to complete her ‘Humanitarian Tour to Conquer 30 World’s Tallest Towers’, saying the funds would cover the “high costs of accommodation, airline tickets, visa applications and related matters”.

“I don’t quite get the sum. I only need a fraction of that figure to compete in tower-running meets worldwide,” said Soh, who is a part-time athletics coach at Universiti Malaya.

“I started tower-running two years ago and today I’m world No. 5. My quest is to be world No. 1 and I’m hoping to get all the assistance I can get to do so.”

“If there is a need to raise RM4 million, it should be for our national athletes.”

Despite the lack of funds, Soh took part in 18 meets worldwide last year, winning three races – Sibu Tower Run in Sarawak, Malaysia, Chong Qing WFC IGTP in Chong Qing, China, and the Canton Tower Run Up in Guangzhou, China.

This year, he plans to compete in several tower races including at the Eiffel Tower, Seoul Lotte Tower, Taipei 101, Empire State Building, Ostankino Tower and the Shanghai Tower.

Soh, however, admitted Malaysia was fixated with Olympic sports and as such, tower-running has not been recognised as a sport by the powers-that-be.

“I met a representative from (Deputy Youth and Sports Minister) Steven Sim’s office on Dec 27, 2018 and the representative assured me that the ministry will issue a letter recognising me as a national athlete and that any company that sponsors me a certain amount will receive tax benefits. I’ve not heard from anyone or received any letter to date.”

He, however, received a letter of appreciation from Sim on Jan 29, 2019 for his efforts.

“So much money is spent on football but what are the returns? Now the attention is on e-Sports. There are other sports where Malaysians are capable of being world champions. Why not help them raise funds instead?”

Soh, who graduated from Universiti Malaya with Sports Science, added Kuala Lumpur makes a great tower-running hub with its many highrise buildings.

“It easy for people to participate and train as well.”

He is now eager to set up a national tower-running association to popularise the sport in Malaysia.

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