Only two turn up (The Sunday Times, 08 Feb 2009)

By Leonard Lim

 

Only two members of the national 4x100m women’s relay squad showed up at Gombak Stadium yesterday.

 

The relay squad had been scheduled to meet Singapore Athletic Association-appointed coach Tang Ngai Kin.

 

But only Amanda Choo and Balpreet Kaur were present for the briefing by their new coach, as they were informed of weekly Saturday training to help them gear up for December’s South-east Asia Games in Laos.

 

The squad’s three other members – Ann Siao Mei, Wong Ze Teng and Lee Yan Lin – said they were sick and did not show up.

 

The team have expressed reservations after the SAA appointed Tang to take over Loh Chan Pew, who had been coaching the girls since 2003.

 

But Tang insisted yesterday: ‘I’m not here to steal anyone’s athletes or to take the limelight. The girls can still train under Chan Pew on other days.’

 

Under Loh, Choo, Ann, Wong and Lee – all 22 – broke the 34-year-old 4x100m national record in 2007.

 

Choo and Ann are also personally coached by Loh. In 2007, Choo broke the national 100m mark that Prema Govinden had held since 1989.

 

Despite Loh’s good results, the SAA said it wanted new blood.

 

Also, the 63-year-old Loh did not have the association’s minimum coaching qualification – an International Association of Athletics Federations Level 3 certificate.

 

Loh attended a joint International Olympic Committee/IAAF course in the 1980s.

 

The SAA’s new panel of relay coaches comprises Tang, 56, Hamkah Afik, 37, Muhamad Hosni, 37, and Alfred Sim, 28.

 

Tang and Hosni have Level 5 qualifications. Sim and Hamkah have Level 2 certificates but, under a newly implemented system, they are automatically upgraded to Level 4.

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