News

Passing of baton to local coaches

The Straits Times by LAURA CHIA

Singapore Athletics (SA) is not looking to fill the technical director position vacated by Volker Herrmann last month. Instead, SA president Tang Weng Fei is putting his faith in a host of local coaches.

He said: "I am a firm believer that local coaches are good enough.

"Maybe we will look at it in the future but, at the moment, we need to strengthen local coaches and local conditions."

In a sign of that belief, SA is appointing 10 locals to train the senior and age-group relay teams (Under-20s, U-18s and U-16s), according to a post on the SA Facebook page which has since been deleted.

These include veterans such as Tang Ngai Kin and recent national athletes such as Amirudin Jamal.

The coaches were appointed "under the vision" of the association's management committee and national relay coach Hamkah Afik.

When contacted, some of the coaches declined comment. ST understands that up to 10 athletes will train in each group, with the fastest four making up the quartet for that group. The groups will also train together once a fortnight.

Tang added that the new system will help to identify the best athletes because there will be a "continuous follow-up on newer athletes who may be better".

"It is part and parcel of sport. If you're not good enough, we will give you time to catch up. But, if you don't, someone else who's more deserving will come," he said.

  • ATHLETICS NATIONAL RELAY TEAM COACHES

  • SENIOR MEN

    Hamkah Afik and Tang Ngai Kin

  • SENIOR WOMEN

    Melvin Tan and Margaret Oh

  • UNDER-20 MEN

    Lee Cheng Wei

  • U-20 WOMEN

    Alfred Sim

  • U-18 MEN

    Lim Yao Peng

  • U-18 WOMEN

    Joy Kuan

  • U-16 BOYS

    Amirudin Jamal

  • U-16 GIRLS

    Asmah Hanim

ALWAYS BE ON YOUR TOES

It is part and parcel of sport. If you're not good enough, we will give you time to catch up. But, if you don't, someone else who's more deserving will come.

TANG WENG FEI , SA president, on the new system identifying the best athletes.

"This system also builds up team spirit. It's a fun way of getting the team together and improving their individual skill sets."

He also hailed the appointment of former national athletes such as SEA Games medallists Amirudin and Lee Cheng Wei.

"They can help young athletes progress and grow by passing on their expertise," he said, adding that the target is to make the sprint relay finals in the 2019 SEA Games and the 2022 Asian Games.

Top sprinters Timothee Yap and Shanti Pereira are optimistic, with Yap saying the system has "no downsides".

"The biggest benefit is youth development. This promotes chemistry because you're under the same system, and you get used to the techniques, objectives and the entire feel. That breeds consistency," the 24-year-old told ST.

"If there's a change in one level, the rest will follow suit.

"When they progress from junior to senior, there isn't much to catch up on in relay skills and they can focus on improving base speed."

Pereira, the 2015 SEA Games 200m champion, agreed that there will be smoother transitions between age groups.

The 22-year-old said: "I like this system because it sparks a sense of camaraderie among the coaches as well as the athletes throughout the different groups."

Yap, who ran at the 2016 Rio Olympics on a wild card, added: "This is also about trying to create an identity for the Singapore relay team, to instil a sense of pride.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to motivate and encourage youth to be proud to represent Singapore.

"I hope that relays will be Singapore's go-to medal hopes. If we send a relay team somewhere, we know we'll definitely come back with a medal."