By Tan Yo-Hinn
SHE lost her coach on June 25 and with the 2008 Olympic Games looming, Quah Ting Wen has yet to find a new one.
With 34 days to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) have organised an emergency meeting early next week to sort out the matter.
The meeting will see Ting Wen, 15, and her parents meet with SSA president Jeffrey Leow and the association’s high performance director, Wen Xin Long, along with coaches Ang Peng Siong and Peter Churchill.
“We need to know what Ting Wen and her parents have in mind, which is why we’re organising a meeting early next week to sit down and resolve this matter,” said Wen yesterday. “Once we know what they want, then it will be easy to find a solution.”
“I can understand the frustration felt by Ting Wen and her parents,” he added. “There is no time left. There are only 35 days left (to the Beijing Olympics). The longer we drag this, the bigger the problem becomes.”
Ting Wen’s coach, American Jack Simon, resigned abruptly on June 25 due to differences with the association on how to run the High Performance Coach (HPC) scheme.
The Secondary 4 student at Raffles Girls School is currently in Sydney competing in the Telstra Grand Prix 2 event. She has already qualified for two events at the Olympics — the women’s 100m freestyle and 400m individual medley — and will try to qualify for the 200m freestyle at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre today.
Ang is currently in Kunming , China , conducting high-altitude training for paralympic swimmer Theresa Goh.
Ang and Ting Wen are expected to be back in Singapore by Monday.
When contacted last night, the swimmer’s mother, Anne, welcomed the news and looked forward to the meeting. She said she and her husband, Dr Quah Tee Hwa, had other options, but declined to elaborate.
Leow believes it would suit Ting Wen to train under either Ang or Churchill, as both will be in Beijing with the swimming team for the Olympic competition, which will be held from Aug 9-21 at the Beijing National Aquatic Centre.
“But it is not for us to decide who should coach Ting Wen,” he added. “That’s the swimmer’s decision. Once we know her decision, we can then proceed to help facilitate the process.”
In March, the SSA shut their four-year-old Centre of Excellence (COE), with the view to split it up into six HPC centres based at six affiliates. Ex-COE swimmers like Marcus Cheah and Ting Wen were invited to train under Simon at The Grassroots Aquatic Club (TGAC), where he was head coach.
But Simon resigned, insisting there could only be one HPC centre due to limited resources.
It prompted an angry response from over 20 parents, who turned up at the SSA’s Annual General Meeting on June 28 in search of an explanation, with some asking for the COE to be reopened. Some felt the closure was also ill-timed, given its proximity to the Olympics.
But Leow said: “I agree with them and it is unfortunate that the HPC closed at this time, but Jack (Simon) decided to leave, and we cannot stop him from leaving.”