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Ice skating: Chun leaves with goal achieved

The Straits Times by NICOLE CHIA

Four-gold Olympic champion Chun Lee-kyung has left her post as Singapore's national short-track speed skating coach.

The 42-year-old South Korean, who joined the Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) in November 2015, told The Straits Times she had decided against renewing her contract with the association as both parties "could not come to an agreement on the priority and focus of the skaters, given the limited available ice time and different priorities".

Sisa president Sonja Chong added that there was an "impasse" as the association and Chun were "unable to come to mutually agreeable terms and conditions, including remuneration, job scope and key performance indicators" during contract renewal negotiations that started in September.

Chun then informed the association in November of her decision not to renew her contract.

Reflecting on her time as national coach, she said: "This was more than a job to me and I chose to do it because of my love for the sport.

"I wanted to make a difference and I am happy with how much the team has achieved, given how limited resources are for a winter sport in a tropical country.

"I have done what I needed to do to prepare and inspire the team to continue working hard as they face new challenges."

A GREAT MENTOR

She's really knowledgeable and passionate about the sport. The things she taught me have influenced me a lot as a skater. I'm really grateful to have trained under such an exceptional athlete and coach.

CHEYENNE GOH, Singapore's first Winter Olympian in Pyeongchang last February, taking part in the 1,500m short-track speed skating event.

Chun's stint as national coach was highlighted by Singapore making its Winter Olympics debut, with 19-year-old Canada-based Cheyenne Goh qualifying for the 2018 edition in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Said Chun of this milestone: "I was lucky enough to be there and that (this) goal was achieved."

She also expressed gratitude to the parents of her charges for their support, adding that it is a key reason for their successes.

The nine-gold world champion believes the Singapore team will be "even stronger than before", noting that junior skaters are setting new records and gaining more experience at the world level to raise their competitive standards ahead of this year's SEA Games in the Philippines, where winter sports will again be on the programme.

For now, Chun will focus on her family - two of her three children are studying here.

She added: "I will still be in Singapore, so if the skaters need my help or advice, I will be happy to help them. I would like the skaters to train hard, focus on their goals and I hope they can achieve much more."

Said Goh: "I'm really fortunate to have been coached by coach Chun.

"She's really knowledgeable and passionate about the sport. The things she taught me have influenced me a lot as a skater. I'm really grateful to have trained under such an exceptional athlete and coach."

Chong said that while the association was disappointed that Chun decided not to renew her contract, it would continue to move forward with its sport and athlete development programmes.

She added: "The physical training schedule that has been established over the years will continue.

"We thank Chun for helping to reinforce a physical training foundation for our athletes.

"Moving forward, we hope that the new coach will build on it and provide athlete and coaching development plans to ensure sustainable growth for Singapore short track."

The national team are currently led by interim coach Ann Zhang, who coached Steven Bradbury to Australia's maiden Winter Olympics gold medal at Salt Lake City in 2002.

Australian Zhang, who was head coach of Australia's short track team for 15 years, will focus on preparing the team for this weekend's SEA Open Short Track Trophy here and the Jan 25-27 ISU World Junior Short Track Championships in Canada.

Sisa is still in discussions with Zhang with regard to arrangements, and Chong added that the process of recruiting a new national coach has already started and will be done in consultation with Sport Singapore.