Yang faces legal action from SAA after pole-vaulter fails to apologise for comments on Facebook
National women's pole vault champion Rachel Yang is bracing herself for legal action after she did not respond in time to a final warning by the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA).
The 32-year-old has been embroiled in a row with the association since last month, when she voiced her unhappiness on her Facebook page after the SAA informed her that she would not take part in the Busan International Pole Vault Meet.
Yang thought that she had qualified, as the SAA had previously said that it would send the season's top male and female vaulters to South Korea regardless of the height they recorded.
But the SAA later told her that she had missed the starting height of 3.60m set by organisers in South Korea - well clear of the season-best of 3.40m which Yang posted last month.
However, after an appeal by the SAA to the organisers, Yang was allowed to take part, but the association insisted that Yang must apologise for what they deemed as defamatory comments about its newly-appointed sports development and performance chief, Asmah Hanim.
In its final warning sent out last Thursday, the SAA wanted her to draft an apology and publish it on her Facebook page within 24 hours.
Ironically, Yang was in the Philippines, on a stopover to Busan for the said meet, when the e-mail was sent.
She claimed that she didn't see it until Friday night, by which time the deadline had lapsed.
She believes that the threat of legal action, on the day before she competed, unsettled her so much that she failed to clear 3.60m on Saturday.
Singapore's male representative, Sean Lim, also failed in his effort of 5.05m.
Yang said: "This is the first time both Sean and me are competing in the Busan meet and we were really hoping to do well.
"We were well prepared and even thought we could set national records.
"So it was really the wrong timing to receive that e-mail. It came as a shock."
This was the SAA's second warning to Yang - the first was issued on April 29.
In its e-mail, the association said it would commence legal actions against her for the alleged defamatory remarks and seek the costs of legal proceedings incurred.
Yang, who set a national record of 3.82m in 2011, said that the standoff has left her exasperated.
She also stressed that the Facebook post in question was taken down in "less than eight hours".
She said: "I'm over it, I've moved on.
"But it seems they just don't want to let me off. I'm puzzled.
"This whole thing has been very tiring, and very unnecessary, I think.
"After I gave birth (in Feb 2013), I've been training and working to qualify for the SEA Games (next June) and I've never really expected any support from the SAA, other than hope they send me for competitions when I qualify.
"My whole journey as a pole vaulter has been very tough. It's my passion but, at the moment, it's making me really unhappy."
SAA president Tang Weng Fei said the association is standing firm on the issue.
The oil trader, who is in Myanmar on a business trip, brushed aside Yang's suggestion that the timing of the warning contributed to her failure at the Busan meet, calling it an "excuse".
"I'm travelling too, and I sent the letter one day before I had to leave for Myanmar," said Tang.
"We gave her one chance already, and this is her second. She should have simply apologised.
"Our honorary secretary called them (Yang and coach David Yeo, who is also her husband) but both decided not to entertain the phone calls. If we go to court, all the evidence will be shown.
"She made defamatory remarks. She knew it was wrong, because she took it down... so why won't she apologise?"