SNOC and SportSG form committee to manage SEA Games-bound track and field athletes
In light of the internal strife in Singapore Athletics, the Singapore National Olympic Committee (SNOC) and Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced yesterday that they have formed a major Games preparation committee to manage the track and field team bound for August's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.
"We are disappointed to see that despite constantly reminding our NSAs to prioritise the interests of our athletes, disagreements and infighting have not ceased among the management committee members at Singapore Athletics," said SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan in a scathing statement on the recent developments in Singapore Athletics.
"Unfortunately, their disputes are disrupting the athletes and officials preparing for the 2017 SEA Games.
"With less than two months to go for the SEA Games (Aug 19-30), preparing our athletes must be the foremost priority and any other personal agenda must be put aside and resolved for the sake of the sport and our athletes."
The committee will be led by team manager Yip Ren Kai, who is a former national water polo player and the chairman of the SNOC Athletes' Commission chairman. He will be assisted by Hoe Aik Teng, a former national high jumper and SportSG's senior manager for partnership development.
Yip told The New Paper yesterday that the upcoming training camp for SEA Games-bound athletes will be the top priority for the new ad-hoc committee.
He said: "We're working out the details and roles in the committee, but the immediate priority is to resolve (internal) issues like the training camp, and ensure the athletes are on track in their training.
"We will set up a meeting to catch up with the high performance team to work out a plan with as little disruption to the athletes' training as possible."
Warring factions in Singapore Athletics' management culminated in a failed extraordinary general meeting to elect new leaders earlier this year.
The immediate priority is to resolve (internal) issues like the training camp, and ensure the athletes are on track in their training.Major Games preparation committee team manager Yip Ren Kai
Coaches have clashed with technical director Volker Herrmann on issues such as competitions and the location of the SEA Games training camp.
In particular, Herrmann and sprint queen Shanti Pereira's coach Margaret Oh disagreed on holding the camp in Taiwan. Herrmann then threatened to drop Pereira from the 4x100m relay team if she didn't attend the camp.
While the matter was resolved in a meeting, plans were thrown in disarray after the management committee voted against Taiwan earlier this week.
Also, a picture of a WhatsApp group chat was leaked last Sunday, showing SA vice-president (training and selection) G Balasekaran calling for evidence to be collected against Oh and pole vault coach David Yeo for disciplinary action.
Following yesterday's announcement, national sprinter Calvin Kang, 27, said: "I'm okay, and (so are) most of the team, but Shanti (Pereira) was implicated because she was caught in the middle, and I think that took quite a toll on her.
"I hope things can be settled internally, (something needs to be done) if it affects athletes."
Hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad added: "Athletes should be able to train and compete without having to worry about anything else - all of us are running for the love of the sport."
SA president Ho Mun Cheong admitted it was a called-for measure by the SNOC and SportSG, to take undue stress off the athletes leading up to the Games.
"The (interests of the) country must come first, not anyone's personal agendas," he said. "Shanti and Margaret were the most affected... Setting up a separate committee is good to let athletes and coaches have the peace of mind for undisrupted training."