Singapore swim chief Lee gives his team top grade
Swim chief Lee hails exco's work since 2014, as he unveils team ahead of June 30 AGM
There has been some good work over the last two years, but there is still a long way to go before targets are fully met.
That's the assessment of Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) president Lee Kok Choy over the performance of the current executive committee, as he introduced his team running for the national aquatics body's upcoming elections yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The team (see sidebar) include incumbents Oon Jin Teik (secretary general), Joscelin Yeo (vice-president, swimming) and Jose Raymond (vice-president, finance), and also feature two new faces.
They are Tan Yew Khuan and Bervyn Lee, who will run for the positions of treasurer and assistant secretary general (swimming), respectively. The SSA's elections will take place on June 30.
Lee, who started his first term as president two years ago after pipping Jessie Phua by a single vote (17-16), gave his team a rousing endorsement for the work they have done since.
"I'd give us an A," said the 64-year-old the country manager of Micron Semiconductor Asia, in response to a question by The New Paper.
"We've had... a lot of challenges in front of us.
"But in two years, working on the (athlete high performance development) system and as well as having significant wins along the way... These are some things we are very proud of, in terms of events, performances and participation. But, this is only the beginning."
Sat to his left, Singapore Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon quipped: "What Kok Choy doesn't tell you is that internally, he expects us to achieve a "triple A" (rating).
"So there are plenty of areas to improve."
Among the achievements the SSA team were proud of were the performance of the Republic's swimmers at last June's South-east Asia Games, where aquatics mined a record 26 gold medals and 54 medals in total.
The SSA also organised 43 events in the last two years, with the highlight being last August's Fina World Junior Swimming Championships.
They also did well away from the pool, raising almost $4 million in sponsorship funds.
But the association did fluff their lines at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where the Republic's swimming contingent faced a disruption in their preparations as swim caps belonging to 10 of the 11-strong team were found to be in breach of the rules.
The fraternity was hit hard with the shock news two months ago that national swim coach Sergio Lopez, famed for grooming swim star Joseph Schooling into a world beater, would leave his post and return to the United States after the Rio Olympics in August, just 19 months into his five-year contract.
Oon admitted: "Losing Sergio is a big loss for us. There's no doubt.
"He's done a lot of good for us. We must move on and look at what's next.... But we must also go back to the fundamentals.
"Prior to Sergio coming, the high-performance system created... what you see today."
Oon said the SSA intended to build on the system Lopez had put in place, and said it would maintain warm ties with him.
On the search for Lopez's replacement, he would only say the SSA is in consultation with stakeholders, including Sport Singapore.
Reiterating the SSA's priority to create a system to elevate Singapore swimming to a world-class level, Lee said: "We still have a long way to go. But we have some credibility in what we do.
"The primary reason we want to continue is we want to build on the strength we've had and continue to enhance what we've got to reach our end point, and reach... a world-class ecosystem for aquatics."
LEE'S TEAM (age in brackets)
- President: Lee Kok Choy (64)
- Secretary-general: Oon Jin Teik (53)
- Vice-president (swimming): Joscelin Yeo (37)
- Vice-president (water polo): Samuel Wong (46)
- Vice-president (diving): William Lee (52)
- Vice-president (finance): Jose Raymond (45)
- Vice-president (synchronised swimming): Philip Lee (50)
- Treasurer: Tan Yew Khuan (55)
- Assistant secretary-general (swimming): Dr Bervyn Lee (52)
- Assistant secretary-general (water polo): Jerome Lau (39)