New athletics chief wants foreign technical director

New athletics supremo says a foreign expert will be hired; sets 2017 SEA Games target

Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong (above, right), who succeeded Tang Wang Fei (left) on Monday.

Fifty years ago, he was part of the Singapore men's 4x400m team that finished a heroic third at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok.

Today, the Republic's track and field athletes no longer figure on the continental stage and even struggle to achieve much success at regional level, and newly elected Singapore Athletics (SA) president Ho Mun Cheong says his team will take concrete steps towards improving the standard of the sport.

The 67-year-old engineer, who also won an individual bronze in the 400m at the 1973 Asian Athletics Championships in Manila, said: "Look at the international scene. Many countries are improving, so why can't Singapore do the same?

"We can improve, too.

"Compared to when I was an athlete and we had just Farrer Park, we now have world-class facilities. So that's one area of improvement.

"We also want our coaches and technical staff up to date, in terms of methods of training across different disciplines.

"We want local coaches to coach our athletes, so they must be trained, and we will look to bring in a foreign technical director to impart knowledge, even if it's on a part-time basis.

"Ultimately, it also boils down to the athletes' own mindset and will.

"I would say our overall results now are mediocre, and we have to work hard together to improve local track and field as a whole."

Ho beat Edmond Pereira in a vote at the SA annual general meeting on Monday to succeed Tang Weng Fei as president of the association.

He knows intimately the kind of success Singapore used to enjoy in track and field. He teamed up with Natahar Bava, Migale Gunasena and C Kunalan to win the bronze at the 1966 Asian Games.

He watched when teammate Kunalan was just pipped for gold in the 100m by Mani Jegathesan.

The most important competitive assignment for Ho and the rest of his executive committee will be next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore's track and field team won three golds, three silvers and three bronze medals at last year's Games on home soil, and he says the target is to improve on that performance in 2017.

"Other teams are also strong, some are stronger. But we have to produce results and aim to be better, otherwise there will be no improvement," he said.

"We will discuss among the management committee members to firm up the training squad and competition schedule to prepare our athletes."

PATHWAY

For young talent like 19-year-old Shanti Pereira, who won the women's 200m gold in a new national record of 23.60sec, Ho said his team will work out a pathway for them to "move up another level".

He added: "We are financially sound, so we want to develop more elite athletes and help them get even better. We also want to set up a junior squad to groom more athletes for future international meets."

While Ho will keep a firm eye on results, he also has the athletes' welfare at heart, and an Athletes' Commission is in the works, which will be headed by former national sprinter Tan Min Jen.

The commission will look at areas including financial aid for student-athletes, as well as helping retired athletes identify and secure job opportunities.

With Ho beating Pereira 11-9 on a revote to become SA chief, it is clear that there is still work to be done to get all the affiliates on the same page.

"We won 12 out of 14 seats, which means we have two from Edmond's team and we have no problems with that and will work closely together," Ho declared.

"We are very close to the ground, so we roughly know which affiliates support us or not.

"But, regardless, we will continue to reach out to every affiliate, offer help in terms of coaching and organise events, because we want to work together for the good of Singapore athletics."


Our overall results now are mediocre, and we have to work hard together to improve local track and field as a whole.

— Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong, who succeeded Tang Wang Fei on Monday

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England's humiliating 2-1 defeat by Iceland yesterday morning (Singaproe time) saw Roy Hodgson step down as manager. Who will the Football Association choose to replace him? PA Sport looks at some leading contenders.

GARETH SOUTHGATE

Highly rated by the decision-makers at the FA, the former Middlesbrough boss was brought into the fold to coach the Under-21s with an eye on future progression.

Faltered at last year's Under-21 European Championship, but led the team to victory at the Toulon tournament just weeks ago.

EDDIE HOWE

A smart, erudite and tactically savvy coach who, at 38, looks to have a bright future at the top of the game.

The FA must surely be monitoring the Bournemouth boss, although it may want to see him move to a bigger club before handing him the reins of the national side.

ARSENE WENGER

Seeing the cultured, technically minded Frenchman with Anglophile tendencies oversee a Three Lions revolution is a highly attractive option.

After 20 years with Arsenal, might he finally be persuaded to seek a new challenge?

RAFAEL BENITEZ

Another foreign candidate but, like Wenger, the Spaniard is well versed in all things English.

After stints with Liverpool, Chelsea and now Newcastle, he qualifies as suitably "assimilated" in the way Fabio Capello was not. Was not hurt by Newcastle's relegation, almost doing enough to avert it, and would surely fancy the job.

ALAN PARDEW

Seemed to be a new man after swopping Newcastle for Crystal Palace and some fine early-season results saw him seriously linked with the England job for the first time in his career.

But results tailed off badly as the campaign progressed and the window of opportunity may be closing.

SAM ALLARDYCE

Has always coveted the post and spoken confidently about the qualities he would bring to it.

Keeping Sunderland in the Premier League last term was another impressive achievement on his CV, but he may be viewed as a retrograde appointment.

GARY NEVILLE

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The restaurant’s menu was developed by Malaysia’s Chef Wan, based on his recipes

GONE: 1 Market by Chef Wan at Plaza Singapura stopped operating last Sunday.
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1 Market by Chef Wan at Plaza Singapura closed its doors permanently last Sunday after opening to much fanfare 3½ years ago.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Food Junction Management and named after Malaysian culinary celebrity Chef Wan, who served as its consultant chef and helped to develop the menu based on his recipes.

The 11,000 sq ft food arena opened in November 2012 and served a variety of halal Asian cuisine, buffet-style.

Mr Jeffrey Lim, general manager of Food Junction, told The New Paper that the decision to close 1 Market was due to a steady drop in business.

"Due to higher operating expenses, we have been unable to sustain the business," he said.

Mr Lim added that the restaurant had not been profitable for some time, though he could not provide an estimation of how much money 
was lost.

Chef Wan, 59, was quoted by BERITAMediacorp about his unhappiness with 1 Market's management and the drop in food quality.

He said: "The food is not prepared (according to) how I have demonstrated and the chefs do as they please. When I heard what happened there, I got quite angry.

PROBLEMS

"I can see clearly that the problems with the management have affected the quality of the food."

Chef Wan also felt 1 Market's closure was a shame because they worked hard on the venture.

Mr Lim did not dispute Chef Wan's comments about the food quality but clarified to TNP: "We tried to maintain the identity and essence of 1 Market, but it is hard to find and retain skilled cooks in today's market."

Mr K.F. Seetoh, founder of the Makansutra food guide, told TNP he was saddened by 1 Market's fate as Chef Wan is a household name, but he also noticed a decline in its food standards recently.

He believes that it is difficult to sustain restaurants selling heritage food as people tend to stick to familiar dining options.

He said: "If you want to come into the food and beverage line, you have to do your homework on the menu, location, pricing and promotions carefully.

"Big names do not hold much weight in Singapore. Even three-star Michelin restaurants have had to close down."

1 Market ceased operations without giving any notice to its customers.

Madam Asmiah Ali, 62, was surprised to read about its closure on Facebook. She used to visit the restaurant with her family on special occasions and last ate there on her birthday last year.

The housewife said: "1 Market is one of the few halal buffet places that have a lot of different cuisines at an affordable price. It's a shame they had to close down."

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