Athletics TD Herrmann defends decisions
Team Singapore's athletics contingent returned from Bangkok yesterday on the back of a fine performance at the Thailand Open Track and Field Championships.
But, not everyone was happy with how things went.
Pole vaulter Rachel Yang won gold and rewrote the national record with a 3.91m effort, but her coach and husband David Yeo said that her achievement was overshadowed by a clash with Singapore Athletics (SA) technical director Volker Herrmann.
Yeo, who has 17 years of experience, told The New Paper he encountered problems when trying to register 16-year-old Cherlin Sia for the competition.
Singapore Sports School student Cherlin had sustained a quadricep muscle injury during the Asian Youth Athletics Championships last month.
But Yeo felt that Cherlin could recover in time for the Thailand Open, where he believed she had the potential to qualify for August's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.
According to Yeo, however, Herrmann turned down his email request for her participation within half an hour, and insisted for an ultrasound and MRI scan, and an official doctor's clearance.
Yeo obtained the necessary medical clearance and emailed Herrmann again, but he said he did not get a reply for "more than 84 hours". During this time, Yeo had to proceed with the travel arrangements for Cherlin without knowing if she could compete.
Cherlin's participation in the Thailand Open was eventually approved by SA president Ho Mun Cheong. She failed to clear the starting height of 3.55m.
Yeo, who added that he was best placed to make the final call in terms of Cherlin's fitness, said: "My purpose is not to fight for Cherlin to go to the SEA Games.
"I just feel that all things should be done in fairness without bias. I have heard many things (about Herrmann)... and finally with this incident, I cannot accept."
Herrmann, 32, officially began work as technical director on April 1.
The former Bavarian state sprint coach reiterated his stance when contacted yesterday, saying: "I'm absolutely sure (Yeo) was not right.
"I believe in healthy and responsible long-term athlete development, so I did not sanction for her participation.
"It was wrong to enter a 16-year-old girl - even though she has huge potential - to a competition where she has to improve on her personal best by 20cm to meet the starting height... Especially when she had a lack of training because of injury."
This saga came a day after Today reported that Herrmann threatened to drop national sprint queen Shanti Pereira from the SEA Games relay team if she does not join SA's centralised training camp in Taiwan next month.
Pereira is the national record-holder in the women's 100m and 200m events and reigning SEA Games 200m champion.
Her coach Margaret Oh said she was worried that travelling to Taiwan after competing at the Asian Athletics Championships in India next month could burn her out.
Herrmann said that while there have been some disagreements with local coaches like Yeo and Oh, he was confident they would eventually see eye to eye.
He said: "After talking to a lot of local coaches I would say we are on a very good path.
"I feel the fraternity is looking for change. Maybe for the more experienced coaches who are comfortable in the old system, (change) may be difficult.
"But I'm sure in the long term they will adjust, because at the end of the day it is about the well-being of the athletes."