Singapore Athletics chief Ho and his team must go
Affiliates must do the right thing or S'pore's track and field athletes won't fulfil their dreams
After a fractious election in April, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has new leadership who I believe can haul the country's No. 1 sport back up and make fans proud of their national team.
On Tuesday, the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) went through a smooth election and Terence Khoo, the new president, has vowed to build on what Low Teo Ping has constructed and take the sport to the next level.
All this while, Singapore Athletics (SA) has lurched from one crisis to another.
After some good performances by our track and field athletes at the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil, and some outstanding sprints by Shanti Pereira, it looked as if the sport was set for forward momentum.
Almost two years on, it is becoming apparent that the SA management committee - which is about halfway into its two-year term - led by president Ho Mun Cheong is taking the sport backwards, instead.
It is critical now for the track and field fraternity to unite and express a vote of no confidence in Ho's 26-member team and, hopefully, spark major change to arrest an alarming slide.
I don't know if there is gumption among the affiliates to do the right thing and boot them out, when they were the ones who put Ho's team in power last year.
After all, Singapore track and field has been riven by the practice of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" for decades, a disease that has held back the sport while our regional rivals marched forward.
Maybe there are good people among the affiliates who realise that when politicking within the management affects athletes, alarm bells must start ringing and action taken.
When a Whatsapp group chat involving SA vice-president (training and selection) Dr G Balasekaran, technical director Volker Herrmann, senior executive for sports development and performance Shalindran Sathiyanesan, general manager Jaime Cheong and sports development and performance manager Ong Wan Xin, revolves around "fixing" two coaches of leading local athletes, an independent inquiry should be set up immediately to investigate.
And if the group did indeed set out to covertly set up Shanti's coach Margaret Oh and pole vault coach David Yeo, the "gang of five" must be deemed unfit and be sacked.
The fact that SA continues to dither suggests either an inability to grasp the gravity of the situation, or plain ineptitude.
Either way, it is just not good enough.
I wonder what role Herrmann has in this particular instance.
A technical director is hired to come up with a sound youth development programme and also work on and manage the coaches.
Appointed on April 1, German Volker, who is supposed to be above the fray, instead seems to be a key figure in the plot led by Bala.
Oh's student Shanti Pereira became the first Singapore athlete to win a medal in the women's 100m at the SEA Games in 42 years when she clinched bronze in 2015 at the National Stadium.
Days later, Shanti, at the time only 18, ended 42 years of hurt when she became the first Singaporean to win a SEA Games sprint gold since 1973 when she clocked 23.60sec to win the women's 200m.
She owns the national records in both events (11.80sec in the 100m clocked in April 2015) but has not matched those times since.
SA is in a mess, the track and field body needs a major shake-up or talented young athletes will suffer. Leonard Thomas
When the 20-year-old should be going faster regularly, she seems to be stagnating.
When she should be brimming with confidence and primed to hit peak form to defend her 200m gold at the SEA Games in August in Kuala Lumpur, she is having to deal with an ugly off-the-track plot to sabotage her coach.
I've heard host Malaysia has pulled out all the stops to prepare one of the most powerful track and field teams in the nation's history.
The Philippines outfit will feature more naturalised citizens who are currently training in California.
The Thais are always strong in athletics, and Indonesia will also win many medals in the sport.
As it stands, I believe Singapore track and field, and Shanti especially, will suffer in Kuala Lumpur, and much of the blame will lay at the feet of Ho and his team.
He recently tried to engineer a shock fresh election, seemingly at loggerheads with Bala and his band.
International Olympic Committee member Ng Ser Miang and SportSingapore intervened and Ho retreated.
Maybe SportSingapore can withhold funding for SA until they get their house in order.
Maybe, former president Tang Weng Fei, who was SA chief before Ho's team took over the reins, can return to the hot seat and fix the sport.
SA is in a mess, the track and field body needs a major shake-up or talented young athletes will suffer.
And that's the ultimate sin.