Cycling enthusiast rides into the sunset
HE LIVED for cycling and now he has died from it.
Full-time national serviceman Chia Wee Kiak was so passionate about cycling that once, after too much time spent on his bike, he constantly urinated blood.
In fact, just a day before his horrific accident at the OCBC Cycle Singapore event on Sunday, Mr Chia shared his excitement on Facebook. He posted 18 pictures of bicycles, race bibs and even his entry acknowledgement, along with the caption: "So excited!! Can't wait for the race on Sunday."
One of the last pictures he posted was taken just before one of the races kickstarted at the F1 Pit Building, with throngs of cyclists lined up before dawn.
His Facebook friend, also his cousin, had replied to his posts: "Proceed with caution! Have fun!"
But in a cruel twist, Mr Chia, 24, died early yesterday morning from head injuries, some 72 hours after his bike crashed along the downhill slope of Sheares Bridge.
The accident took place soon after the start of the 59km Super Challenge category in which he took part.
This is believed to be the first death in the six-year history of the biggest mass-participation cycling event here, which drew close to 12,000 participants over three days this year.
Mr Chia, a first-timer at the event, was taken by ambulance to Singapore General Hospital where he underwent two major operations on his brain, each lasting at least five to six hours. He remained in the intensive care unit until his death yesterday.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated.
At his wake yesterday, his cousin, Ms Angel Soo, 30, a human resources adviser, said: "The parents may look very strong but I hope you can understand that it's not easy to deal with such a sudden loss. We are not angry with the organisers and we do not have a yardstick for what they need to do and what they don't need to do. We are thankful for any help given."
OCBC Cycle Singapore's organiser, Spectrum Worldwide, and OCBC Bank said that they "will continue to extend all the support needed to Mr Chia's family in this very difficult time".
OCBC staff members were present at the wake to talk to Mr Chia's family.
But all thoughts were on the young man himself, who had graduated from Republic Polytechnic.
"He was a happy-go-lucky, friendly boy and was very close to his family. He really loved cycling, and influenced his sister to pick up the hobby," said Ms Soo. "He talked about cycling (to us), it was very apparent that he loved it."
Mr Chia's 20-year-old sister would cycle and exercise alongside him. His parents are in their 50s.
His passion for the sport was boundless. In a post in June 2012 he said "I think I cycled for too long...now I'm peeing blood".
He consulted a doctor after the bleeding became constant but reassured his Facebook friends two days later that all was well.
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who also took part in the 59km Super Challenge on Sunday, also expressed condolences on his Facebook page yesterday.
He wrote: "Rest in Peace Wee Kiak. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his father, mother, sister and loved ones. Take care."
Yesterday, as monks chanted at the Buddhist funeral, the mood was sombre. But so deep was Mr Chia's passion for the sport that Ms Soo added: "He left doing something he enjoyed very much, and he left doing something he really wanted to take part in."