Team Singapore

Tensions raised over duo's withdrawal from 4x400m relay

They ruffled feathers after their decision to pull out of the 4x400m relay team to focus on the individual race less than 24 hours later.

The move did not pay off for Singapore duo Zubin Percy Muncherji and Ng Chin Hui, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the men's 400m final yesterday.

On the final day of track and field at the SEA Games, Zubin, the national record-holder with a time of 47.29sec, could clock only 47.87, while Ng managed 48.83 at the National Stadium.

Thailand's Kunanon Sukkaew won gold in a Games record of 46.00, while Vietnam's Quach Cong Lich (46.02) and Philippines' Alejan Edgardo Jr (47.08) were second and third.

The New Paper understands the Singapore duo's decision to make themselves unavailable for selection upset a few fellow athletes.

The men's 4x400m relay team of Tan Zong Yang, Seow Yeong Yang, Raymond Scott Lee and athletics team captain Kenneth Khoo eventually finished fifth in 3min 17.44sec, almost 11 seconds behind winners Thailand, who clocked 3:06.81.

One member of Singapore's athletics contingent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, slammed Zubin and Ng's decision.

He said: "It's like asking Joseph Schooling to swim in the relay events, but he refuses because he wants to focus on his own individual events. Cannot, right?"

DIPLOMATIC

National sprints and relays coach Luis Cunha, who was brought in by Singapore Athletics (SA) last December, tried to be diplomatic yesterday.

"Of course, I want the best runners in the relays," said the Portuguese.

"But, I train the athletes the federation wants me to and, in terms of selection, it's the same... I have to accept it."

SA president Tang Weng Fei said he attempted to diffuse the tension, and suggested the right call was made in the end.

"I know some words were said, but I spoke to the relay boys and told them not to lose focus," he said.

"Tactically, we did the right thing. Different people will have different opinions.

"I'm not totally unhappy, but wanting everyone to run every race for Singapore is easier said than done."

Zubin, 18, stands by his decision.

"I understand the concern, but I have no regrets," he said.

"It (his performance in the individual event) would have been worse if I ran the relay."

When asked what happened in his race, he said: "To be honest, everybody was just really, really fast.

"The winner ran 46 seconds flat, which hasn't been done (before)... I guess I just have to come back stronger.

"The home support really got me going and it was a shame I couldn't deliver today, but I just got to keep my head up and move forward."

SEA GamesTeam Singapore