Distrust and discord in Singapore Athletics 'hurting the sport'
SportSG says Singapore Athletics must put interests of athletes and country above everything else
Singapore Athletics (SA) has earned a sharp rebuke from national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG), after recent media reports revealed issues with sprint queen Shanti Pereira's preparations for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
In a media statement released last evening, SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "The interests of the country and athlete should be placed above all else.
"It is therefore disappointing that continuing distrust and discord in the team leading Singapore Athletics is hurting the sport.
"We urge all parties to come to the table, put aside their personal differences and work professionally towards the common objective of preparing our athletes to be in the best position to perform at the upcoming SEA Games."
Last week, the Today newspaper wrote that Pereira's place in the relay team for August's South-east Asia (SEA) Games was in doubt because she could not confirm her attendance in the training camp which was slated to take place in Taiwan.
Pereira's coach Margaret Oh said that her chief concern was the climate in Taiwan, which is different to Malaysia's, and thus wouldn't be ideal.
She was also worried that her protege, who will be taking part in the Asian Athletics Championships (July 6 to 9) in India, would be tired out from the travelling.
The two-week training camp in Taiwan begins from mid-July.
But, SA technical director Volker Herrmann warned that Pereira's place in the SEA Games relay team will be in jeopardy if she doesn't join her teammates in centralised training.
“I fully agree that we should put our differences aside and work towards the coming SEA Games in Malaysia. We have to be athlete-centric, not putting coaches and athletes into trouble.”Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong
Pereira, a Singapore Sports School graduate, won the women's 200m gold on home ground two years ago in 23.60sec, and the bronze in the 100m event with a time of 11.88s.
Pole vault coach David Yeo also had a run-in with Herrmann over the participation of Yeo's athlete, Cherlin Sia, in the recent Thailand Open.
It culminated in the leak of a Whatsapp group chat last Sunday, where SA vice-president (training and selection) G Balasekaran said evidence should be gathered against Yeo and Oh, and brought to SA president Ho Mun Cheong for disciplinary action.
Dr Bala claimed Ho was behind the leaks and called him "unfit" to run the association.
Pereira's problem was resolved yesterday after her father, Oh and Herrmann met (see story below).
SA president Ho said: "I fully agree that we should put our differences aside and work towards the coming SEA Games in Malaysia.
"We have to be athlete-centric, not putting coaches and athletes into trouble.
"Better put our energy to ensure that the coaches and athletes get full attention to focus on the SEA Games rather than thinking of how to put the coaches and athletes into trouble.
"This is a selfish attitude and an example of thinking only about one's own interest and not the interest of the coaches and athletes."
Dr Bala said: "I agree with what Teck Yin said, but my team and I have always been working together, and the president has been an obstacle, and he has to change his ways."
He pointed out that Ho initiated the extraordinary general meeting early last month, which was eventually cancelled.
According to Dr Bala, Ho also wanted to sack SA general manager Jaime Cheong, and had initially approved the plan to hold the centralised training in Taiwan, which he now says is a bad idea.
The associate professor and the head of physical education and sports science at the National Institute of Education also claimed that Ho was behind Sunday's leak of the Whatsapp messages.
Said Dr Bala: "We have been so busy with preparations and these distractions from him are not needed, it is energy wasted for me (dealing with these issues).
"So, we will always cooperate and make sure that the athletes are not affected. I can't say the same about him."