June 25, 2017

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by Suhaile Md 

SO WHAT if she was axed from the national team training programme six months back? Feng Tianwei’s still got it. Singapore’s top table tennis star won the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) title on Sunday (Apr 23).

It’s her first major title since she was booted out of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) last October. Apparently, the 30-year-old didn’t fit into its rejuvenation plans, so STTA would not support her training. It would however support her participation in the ITTF world circuit. Though it’s not clear what exactly this support entails. As for major meets like the Olympics and the Asian Games, she will face the same qualifying criteria as any other STTA athlete. The three-time Olympic medallist had failed to make it past the Olympic quarter-finals in Rio 2016.

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There was much drama surrounding Feng’s ouster (links below). But she was quick to pick herself up and form a team to support her training. She has been busy competing since.

Barely over a month after the split, Feng faced world No. 1 and reigning Olympic champion, Ding Ning in a China Table Tennis Super League match on Dec 6. The bout was a nail-biter, but Feng prevailed, beating the world champion by just one set. The score: 3:2.

While the win gave her a much needed confidence boost, constant travel across China for league matches took a toll. A few days later at the ITTF Doha Open, Feng lost 3:4 to Miu Hirano of Japan in the round of 16. That’s one step short of the quarter finals. It was the last event of the year.

The loss of STTA’s resources clearly had an impact. “This is the first competition I’m going to where I’m handling every aspect of competing by myself,” said Feng after her loss to Japan, reported The Straits Times (Dec 10).

Lucky for her, she still qualified for the Sports Excellence Scholarship which provides her with a monthly stipend of up to $8,000 amongst other benefits like medical support. The scholarship is awarded by the High Performance Sports (HPS) Steering Committee, not STTA. HPS is chaired by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu. Feng successfully renewed the scholarship in March this year.

Feng’s 2017 season started on a sour note. She was absent from the STTA awards ceremony in mid-February although she was the top table tennis performer in Singapore last year. She had come in third for both the World Cup and Asian Cup in 2016. The best player award was not given out that night.

According to ST, when asked about Feng’s absence, STTA president Ellen Lee said: “She is no longer at the STTA… all this while, we have been recognising Feng Tianwei for what she has done and we are grateful… I think it’s about time that we also let the recognition be given and spread on to other players as well.”

February was a dismal month for her. For the ITTF Qatar Open, she was defeated by German Solja Petrissa, who ranked 13th in the world, by two sets. Feng was ranked sixth at that time.

There was one bright spot. On Feb 23, Feng met the qualifying criteria for the Asian Table Tennis Championship in April, so STTA took her in as part of its Singapore contingent. It was the first time she played with the STTA since their October split. On April 14 though, she lost to China’s Chen Meng at the quarter-final stage in three straight sets.

Despite the loss, Feng was ranked third in the world by ITTF in March and April, up from sixth when she parted ways with STTA. The next best Singaporean, ranked 25th in the world, is Zeng Jian. Since Feng is no longer in the STTA, this makes 20-year-old Zeng STTA’s best player.

Feng solidified her hold on the global rankings with her ITTF Korea Open win on Sunday (Apr 23). After her win, she said: “At the moment I don’t practise with the national team in Singapore although I live there. I am practising in different clubs and with different private sparring partners. Sometimes I even go to China for training.”

The three highest ITTF ranked players will represent Singapore in the SEA games team events this August, said STTA technical director Loy Soo Han in response to queries from The New Paper in January.

So it really doesn’t matter whether Feng is part of STTA or not as far as the glory of Singapore is concerned. Feng could still play for the national team if she maintains her ranking. If she wins medals, Singapore’s best paddler would have done so with little to no resources spent on her by STTA. Very much like Joseph Schooling.
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Read more on last October’s controversy here:

  1. Feng breaks silence on STTA controversy. Here’s her letter – in English

  2. What STTA’s Deputy President said about Feng Tianwei’s sacking

  3. Feng was a “bad egg”, a “disgrace to nation”, says STTA Deputy President

  4. Feng Tianwei’s shock exit and the economy

 

Featured image by cm yong. (CC BY 2.0)

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by Wan Ting Koh

THIS year may have been a turbulent one for politics, but for the local sports fraternity, the year has been no less fraught with highs and lows.

No less than six sports have made the spotlight for reasons other than sporting achievements. In fact, some made the headlines for in-fighting, others for bad blood between management and players, and yet others for possible criminal activities.

Talk about bad sportsmanship – off the field.

 

1. Table Tennis

feng

Image Women’s World Cup Table Tennis by Flickr user cm yong

 

The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) axed two of its most illustrious players this year. One due to disciplinary issues and the other – according to an official statement – due to long-terms plans to inject new blood into the team.

National player Li Hu was sacked in October after an STTA disciplinary investigation found that Li, whose top achievements include winning a men’s doubles gold with veteran Gao Ning at the 2015 SEA Games, had continually violated house rules.

The 28-year-old brought his girlfriend to his dormitory on several occasions even after being warned against it. The Hubei native also has a whole host of other disciplinary issues and is currently assisting with investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for his mother’s alleged bribery attempt.

Barely a day after Li Hu was cut from the team, national paddler Feng Tianwei too was dropped. The three-time Olympic Medallist was axed from the STTA, with the association announcing that Feng didn’t fit into STTA’s “plans for rejuvenation”. That was the official reason.

Unofficially, sources alleged the 28-year-old had been fired for misconduct, ill-discipline and disrespect. The paddler was said to have had disagreements with the association over prize money and to have made false claims. STTA’s deputy vice president David Sim took to his own Facebook page to call Feng a “disgrace to the nation” and “bad egg” in comments with users. Read our story here and here.

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2. F1

F1

Image F1 by Flickr user Yuki Shimazu

 

The fate of the Formula One (F1) Singapore Grand Prix after next year’s race is hanging in the balance as its chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said in November that Singapore might not extend its deal past next year.

That was not all he said though. The 86-year-old Briton added: “Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a grand prix any more.”

Reaching its goal might not be the only reason Singapore wouldn’t ink another deal for the F1. The race has also been suffering from dropping ticket sales, with this year’s numbers the lowest since F1 came to Singapore in 2008. This year’s grand prix also experienced a 15 per cent drop in attendance.

Mr Ecclestone later claimed he was misquoted, saying that he is hopeful discussions on keeping the race in Singapore will be “sorted out”.

 

3. Football

football

Image Malaysia Vs Singapore by Flickr user Phalinn Ooi

Perhaps the most public example of long-term internal strife within a governing body. A host of problems have plagued the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for years, the most recent being Singapore’s defeat in the AFF Suzuki Cup by Indonesia.

Said to be the worst-ever showing at the Suzuki Cup, the Lion’s performance resulted in netizens calling for the termination of the team’s head coach, whose strategy was to play on the defensive. However, the coach was only appointed in May this year.

A TODAY report said that the Lion’s plight only highlights the problems with Singapore’s footballing ecosystem, especially in the area of domestic football. Criticisms have been levelled at FAS for its neglect of grassroots development, with the lower leagues getting its funds cut even though the FAS budget is burgeoning.

To top off the bad showing, a brawl broke out this October during an FAS-organised tournament, interrupting a match between Balestier United Recreation Club and Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association. The match was never completed.

 

4. Track and Field

athletics

Image Athletics at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics at Bishan Stadium, Singapore, on 23 August 2010 by Flickr user Jack at Wikipedia

 

In June, a coach was suspended after allegations of molest towards three female athletes. The governing body for track and field, Singapore Athletics (SA), said that on one of the occasions, the coach allegedly improperly touched an athlete during a session working with gym weights. A police report was filed.

In a separate August report, SA’s vice-president for competitions organising Loh Chan Pew took a leave of absence to assist with police investigations. His move came after a police report was filed against him for allegedly molesting a former national athlete in 2010. This happened just 38 days after Mr Loh was elected unopposed to the position at the SA’s Annual General Meeting in June.

That’s not all the problems SA faces. Earlier in December, it was reported that SA could lose its funding for the hire of a key secretariat staff, general manager Jaime Cheong, as it did not consult Sport Singapore on the appointment.

 

5. Shooting

shooting

Image from Singapore Shooting Association Facebook page

 

The Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) was booted from the national shooting body, the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) last week, after the association’s three other members voted at the extraordinary general meeting. The SSA said that the SRA “no longer has the best interest of the shooting fraternity at heart, and adjudges it as an organisation that is not in good standing with SSA”.

The SSA added that the SRA consistently expressed disagreement on key issues and “persistently undermined the SSA’s work as the national shooting authority” over the past 18 months.

Some six months before it was expelled, the SRA filed a High Court suit against the SSA over alleged breaches of the SSA constitution and for attempting to suspend its privileges. The SRA is also taking SSA’s president Michael Vaz, to court for defamation.

 

6. Baseball

hit-factory

Image from The Hit Factory website

 

Last month, a private baseball facility shut down abruptly, leaving 71 children who had paid for classes, and staff, high and dry. Called The Hit Factory (THF), the facility had a dispute with the Singapore Baseball and Softball Association (SBSA).

According to parents, emails from THF said that it had no viable way of staying in business without a facility as it could not sell programmes for next year. THF added that it would not able to refund the fees of approximately $200,000 for six months of unfulfilled programmes. It had to declare bankruptcy after raking up $20,000 in debt.

When contacted by TODAY, one of THF’s owners, Mr Michael Froemke, blamed the closure to their dispute with the SBSA. THF was informed by SBSA in September that it would have to leave the field by the end of this year as Sport Singapore would be reclaiming the venue.

Even though SBSA told THF that the association had been granted an extension till March 31, THF said that its weekend lease hours would be significantly reduced, so it was unable to continue.

 

 

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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YOU can be the world’s No. 6, but if you can’t perform up to our standards – and have a smart mouth to boot, we don’t want you around.

Singapore’s top female table tennis player Feng Tianwei was axed from the national squad in a shock decision announced late yesterday (Oct 25) by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA).

The association said it would not be renewing her contract because she “does not fit into the STTA’s current plans for rejuvenation”. Her contract with STTA will end next Monday.

It gave no further details on its decision but the China-born national paddler who became a Singaporean in 2008 has been known to clash with her coaches and the association’s management. In October last year, she and a fellow teammate had demanded a change of coaches – an argument that eventually led to the firing of then-men’s team head coach, Yang Chuanning.

She also performed poorly in the recent Olympics, returning empty-handed despite doing well in other competitions, including the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Women’s World Cup two weeks ago.

Responding to the statement, Feng, 30, said she would continue to compete and would hold a press conference soon to discuss her dismissal.

The decision stunned many in the sporting fraternity, given that Feng is Singapore’s biggest star in the table tennis arena. She was part of the Singapore women’s table tennis team that finished second in the 2008 Olympics. Four years later, she collected two bronzes – for herself and her team – in London.

May Chen from The Straits Times said the move hinted at larger issues within the association: “What goes on within the walls of the STTA’s headquarters has always been something few are privy to, but the peculiarity of this episode suggests a bigger malaise is brewing.”

“The manner in which she was dismissed – like an executioner’s axe swiftly severing ties – left the sharpest impression.”

Meanwhile, other Singaporeans who were laid off are finding it harder to find new jobs.

Apart from the weak labour demand in general, this is also because of a mismatch in skills, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in its biannual Macroeconomic Review published yesterday.

The “re-entry” rate fell from 50.5 per cent six months ago to 45 per cent in June this year – the lowest since 2009.

The employment decline was the worst in manufacturing, which laid off 5,300 workers in the first half of the year. Industries that added jobs included the transport and storage and start-up sectors.

On a relatively brighter note, MAS predicted the economy would pick up slightly next year, after coming in at the lower end of 1 to 2 per cent this year.

Things may be looking a little gloomy on the economic front, but it hasn’t stopped the G from having a sunny outlook about the power of sunshine.

An $11-million floating solar photovoltaic cell test-bed was launched yesterday in the Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas. Said to be the largest in the world, the test-bed is about the size of 100 five-room HDB flats, and contains 10 different solar photovoltaic systems that will be studied over the next six months.

Two best-performing systems will be chosen and studied further as part of the nation’s venture into clean and renewable energy.

 

Featured image from TMG file.

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by Vir Chiniwala

JOSEPH Schooling’s historic gold medal at the Olympics filled Singaporeans worldwide with pride. And there might be more medals to come as Team Singapore is still in the running in some events at the Olympics.

Don’t turn off your televisions yet:

 

Table Tennis:

Image taken from Team Singapore's Facebook page.
Image taken from Team Singapore’s Facebook page.

Despite Singapore’s disappointing table tennis campaign, our women’s doubles team have been a silver lining in a dreary event for The Little Red Dot. But the team of Yu Mengyu, Zhou Yihan and Feng Tianwei were outclassed by their Chinese counterparts in the semifinals with an humbling score of 3-0. Still, the trio can add to Singapore’s sole Olympic medal (this year) tonight, if they do well in the third place decider.

While Yu and Feng sadly crashed out of the singles competition, they now have a shot at redemption and would be hoping to make the nation proud with a place on the podium.

The women’s third place final will be telecast at 10pm local time tonight (August 16).

 

Sailing:

Image taken from Team Singapore's Facebook page.
Image taken from Team Singapore’s Facebook page.

Singapore’s sailors have been riding rough times at the games, with the majority of the nation’s sailors unable to mount a sustainable challenge for a medal. Team Singapore’s remaining sailing events are Amanda Ng and Jovina Bei Fen Choo’s women’s 470 dinghy, and Sara Tan and Griselda Khng’s women’s 49er skiff. The preliminaries for both events are currently underway, with the top 10 from both races progressing to the next round.

The odds may be stacked against Singapore’s sailing contingent, though one can never count out the unpredictability of sport – especially after Schooling’s comprehensive victory over swimming legend Michael Phelps.

The women’s 49er skiff kicks off at 12.05am local time tomorrow (August 17) – the 10th preliminary race of the event.

The women’s 470 dinghy starts shortly after, at 12.15am local time tomorrow (August 17) – the eighth preliminary race of the event.

 

Featured image taken from Team Singapore’s Facebook Page.

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Singapore 2016 Olympic Opening

by Vir Chiniwala

THE 2016 Olympic Games kicked off last Saturday (August 6) and there’s been plenty of action featuring Singapore’s finest athletes. Below, we take a look at how Team Singapore has done over the first few days of Rio 2016.

 

Rowing

History was made at the Rio games with Singapore’s first Olympic rower Saiyidah Aisyah qualifying for the quarterfinals of the women’s single sculls event.

She completed her event with a time of 08:44 minutes and that saw her finish third, behind Switzerland’s Jeanine Gmelin and overall winner for the heats, China’s Duan Jingli.

Saiyidah faced a testing heat with waters so choppy that the Singaporean had to be inventive in order to remain competitive. She creatively used her spare socks to remove the overflow of water from the craft just a few seconds before the start of the race.

Post-qualifying, she shared her Australian coach Alan Bennett’s advice with reporters. “He told me I’ve come this far and there’s no reason why I can’t finish in the top three.” Bennett’s words of motivation had echoed through her head, and she “kept repeating it throughout the race”.

The next leg of the event will be held tomorrow (August 9).

 

Swimming

In the heats for the men’s 100m backstroke, Quah Zheng Wen failed to qualify for the semifinals of the event after finishing 22nd out of 39 swimmers. He finished with a time of 54.38 seconds on Sunday (August 7). Hopefully he can improve on his form before the 100m and 200m butterfly qualifiers.

Just one day before that (August 6), his older sister Quah Ting Wen crashed out of the qualifiers for the 100m women’s butterfly. She finished four seconds behind the last qualifier with a time of 01:00.88 minutes.

 

Table Tennis

Men’s table tennis was easily the most disappointing event so far, after Singapore number one Gao Ning crashed out of the men’s singles in the fourth round.

Gao slumped to a stunning upset against Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall in a seven set thriller. The veteran Singaporean was a strong favourite in the event, and his early exit has left many astonished islandwide.

In women’s singles, Singaporean paddler Yu Mengyu advanced to the third round after defeating her Australian opponent, Lay Jian Fang in straight sets.

She remained unfazed by a raucous reception in the arena and comfortably won the first four sets, with the final score 11-9, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10. Yu will face South Korea’s Jeon Jihee tomorrow (August 9).

 

Shooting

Shooter Jasmine Ser sadly failed to reach the final stage of the 10m air rifle event after finishing 25th out of 51 participants, with a score of 413.5. She finished vastly behind the qualifying mark, with only the top eight competitors qualifying for the finals.

The nation will be hoping that Ser is more successful in her second event – the 50m three positions on Thursday (August 11).

In a similar fate, Teo Shun Xie was unsuccessful in reaching the 10m air pistol finals after an underwhelming performance in the qualifiers – finishing 37th out of 44 competitors. Like her compatriot, Teo has an opportunity to make amends at her second event, the 25m pistol event tomorrow (August 9).

 

Featured image by REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach. 

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Sports Hub stadium. Image sourced from facebook user: ASEAN Para Games 2015

by Rohini Samtani

THE eighth edition of the ASEAN Para Games (APG) hosted by Singapore has come to a close. A closing ceremony with a crowd of 3,500 participating athletes and guests was held on Wednesday evening at Marina Bay Sands. The Singapore team showed its best ever performance – bagging 24 gold, 17 silver and 22 bronze medals, and coming in fifth out of the 10 participating countries.

Final Medal Tally for the 8th ASEAN Para Games. Image sourced from facebook user: ASEAN Para Games 2015
Final Medal Tally for the 8th ASEAN Para Games.

Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu praised the athletes for their “fantastic performances” and displays of “resilience and indomitable human spirit.” Here are eight para-athletes who stood out with their performances.

1.  Yip Pin Xiu: Singaporean swimmer sets new world record 

Ms Yip Pin Xiu made the rest of us look bad: the 23-year-old backstroke swimmer that competed in the 50m backstroke’s S2-S5 category, broke a world record for the S2 category and won her first gold medal at 1 min 1.61 secs; Vietnam’s Ms Nguyen Thi Den came in second, just 0.02 secs later. Ms Yip’s previous record for the 50m backstroke was 1 min 3 secs. Ms Yip suffers from muscle dystrophy, but that definitely is not slowing her down: she also won two silver medals – one for the women’s 100m freestyle S5 and the other for the women’s 50m freestyle S5.

Ms Yip belongs to the S2 category, which are “players that can use arms but have severe coordination problems in four limbs”. Players in the S5 category are less impaired, and these are “players have short stature and additional impairment, with loss of control over one side of their body”. Yip was competing with swimmers who are three classes above her, because there weren’t enough swimmers in her category.

2. Kewalin Wannaruemon: Blind Thai track runner wore Hello Kitty eyeshades during race

The 21-year-old runner who was born blind and competed in the most severe class for the visually impaired, T11 – “players that have visual disability” – and won three gold medals at the APG, for the 100m, 200m and 400m, and set new Games records for the 200m and 400m races. But Ms Wannaruemon’s outstanding performance was not the only reason why she was the talk of the town – her Hello Kitty eyeshades turned heads too. As per the game rules, visually impaired athletes are allowed to run with guides, but to keep it fair they have to wear eyeshades. Ms Wannaruemon said about her choice of eyewear, “Hello Kitty is my favourite and I love it. I think they (the eyeshades) reveal my character.”

3. Jerrold Pete Mangliwan: Got $11,250 after new Filipino law is passed for para-athletes 

The 36-year-old wheelchair racer will get 378,720 pesos (S$11,250) after he and a group of para-sportsmen campaigned for a new law in the Philippines, proposing higher salaries for disabled athletes. He won two golds and one silver during the games; the gold medal is worth $4,500, six times more than the previous amount, while the silver medal is worth $2,228, which was previously $445. In contrast, the only payout Singapore athletes get is $2,000 for a gold medal, and none for silver and bronze medals.

4. Lawrence Tay: Singaporean broke APG swimming record

Like Ms Yip Pin Xiu, 21-year-old Mr Tay broke the men’s 50m backstroke Games record, but this time in the S14 category which is “players with intellectual disability and autism”. He finished with a timing of 34.52 secs, making this his first gold medal. Overall, Singapore won a total of 33 medals, finishing in third place overall for swimming, with the swimming teams contributing to more than half of the medal count for the country.

5. David Jacobs: Indonesia’s first Paralympic medal in 24 years 

Mr Jacobs’ performance in the Paralympics Table Tennis has been a monumental one for his country. He was Indonesia’s first Paralympic medal winner in 24 years when he won the bronze at the 1988 Paralympic Games in London. In Singapore this year, he won the gold for Table Tennis in S10, which is “players who have loss of one hand or both feet and a significantly limited function of one hip joint”.

6. Ernie Gawilan: First Filipino swimmer to make it to the World Paralympics Championship

Dubbed as “Davao’s para-athlete swimming sensation” Mr Gawilan not only won gold in the men’s 400m freestyle race, but also clocked a new Games record. He broke the previous record for 400m swimming by 4 seconds with a time of 4 min 48.49 secs. Born with underdeveloped extremities and orphaned at an early age, the swimmer competed in the S8 category of disability – “players who have lost either both hands or one arm”. His exceptional performance will make him the first Filipino Paralympian swimmer to make it to the 2016 World Paralympics championship, to be held in Rio de Janeiro.

7. Jason Chee: Singaporean won a medal just two years after losing both legs and left arm

Singapore paddler Mr Chee has been in the news ever since he lost both legs and his left arm in a ship accident in 2012 while working as a Navy Serviceman. He represented the Singapore Table Tennis team just two years after his accident and won a bronze medal at the 2014 APG. In 2015 too, he was a part of the team that bagged Singapore first ever Para Games table tennis gold medal and narrowly missed out on individual gold in a close match against Thai opponent Mr Natthawut Thinathet. He played in the S2 category which is “players who can use arms but have severe coordination problems in four limbs”.

8. Anchaya Ketkeaw: Thai swimmer won gold in all seven events she competed in

The Thai para-swimmer was the most decorated athlete in this year’s edition of the APG, winning the gold in all seven events that she competed in. The 17-year-old was orphaned at a young age, and regarded her success as a response to bullies that deemed her “useless” because of her disabilities. She was born with a deformed right hand and competed in the S9 category of disability which is “players that have joint restrictions in one leg, double below-the-knee amputations or amputation of one leg”.

 

Featured image and winners table from APG Facebook Page.

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by Suhaile Md

AWARD-WINNING but not good enough? The national men’s table tennis head coach Yang Chuanning has been fired while the national women’s head coach Jing Junhong is redeployed as Chief Coach (Youth Development). The announcement made yesterday by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) was a curious development given that earlier this year, Yang Chuanning won the Keppel-STTA Sports Excellence Award 2014  and Jing Junhong won Coach of the Year 2014. What gives?

Apparently, it’s a consequence of soured relationships between coach and player. With Jing, national players Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu requested for change in order to improve their games. As for Yang, the players had complained about his performance during a review. It’s not clear if there were issues simmering beneath the surface from the start of the coaches’ tenures or if it’s a recent development.

Yang Chuanning took over as head coach in Aug 2010. Brought in after his successful stint as a coach in China, where he trained Olympic medallists like Li Ju, Yang groomed the men’s team to several historic wins. In Feb 2012, paddlers Gao Ning and Yang Zi won the men’s doubles at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Macau – nearly 60 years after Singapore last won that title. A month later, the men’s team, reached the quarter finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships for the first time in Singapore’s history – they surpassed this record to rank fifth in the 2014 championships. This is on top of the other medals won in events like the SEA games and Commonwealth games.

So it’s rather puzzling when reports indicate that the reason for Yang’s dismissal is performance based:

The Straits Times understands that the players had given negative feedback regarding Yang, with complaints questioning both his professionalism and capability. Among the gripes were perceived views that Yang does not treat the players equally – and looks down in particular on local-born paddlers – and has also failed to adapt training regimes to the new balls and ahead of big tournaments.’

Jing Junhong was the deputy to head coach Zhou Shusen of the women’s team for three years before taking over in Oct 2012. She was the only candidate considered for the job when Zhou announced his retirement.

In fact, Zhou gave a ringing endorsement: “Everyone saw how Jing guided (Feng) Tianwei to a singles bronze and the team to another bronze at this year’s (2012) Olympics… She has the technical nous, the coaching skills and the ability to gel the players together. I don’t see any problems in her succeeding me because there have been a number of areas where she is better than me”.

In the past three years, the women’s team won, among other prizes, the bronze medal at the World Team Cup twice, in 2013 and 2015, Gold at the Commonwealth games in 2014, and bronze at the Asian games in 2014.

However, a prominent crack appeared just last month at the Polish Open. Paddler Yu Mengyu revealed that a conflict with Jing Junhong had affected her performance and caused her to lose a doubles match. This was after Jing insisted on coaching her for her singles match against World No. 2, Liu Shiwen. However, Yu preferred her usual coach, Hao Anlin. The STTA later said that Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu had expressed wishes to change the women’s team coach – that is, Jing Junhong – a week before the Polish Open.

Could that one incident really be the cause of Jing’s redeployment as is speculated? And what grave performance issues, in spite of his clear results, did Yang have which resulted in his ouster?

Whatever the case, let’s hope the STTA gets its house in order fast enough – the 2016 Olympics is just nine months away.

 

Featured image Women’s World Cup Table Tennis Feng Tianwei Singapore playing her quarterfinal match against World Champion of China, Gao Yue by Flickr user cm yongCC BY 2.0.

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Green clock showing 8.30.

YOU can tell that it isn’t going to be a good Friday by using your nose. That wonderful run of clear skies was alas, too brief. The PSI will be creeping into the unhealthy range today.

Given the health effects of the unwelcome visitor from Indonesia, maybe the National Healthcare Group should shorten its three-year study to evolve a National Health Index before anyone expires from breathing in soot. Those living in Geylang, Hougang, Toa Payoh, Novena, Serangoon and Ang Mo Kio can expect to be asked some questions related to physical health, social isolation and loneliness, depression and cognition for mental health. Also, about their ability to conduct daily activities such as taking a shower and taking public transport. This seems more to us like a checklist for the elderly. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial if they were sampled first so that could receive, to use that medical jargon, “early intervention”?

More on health, or rather healthcare financing. Medishield Life has kicked in and it seems that policyholders of Integrated Plans (IP), which are tie-ups with private insurers, are still sticking to their IPs. Maybe it’s because the insurers have said that they would be holding premiums constant for now? We should wait until the higher premiums kick in to assess policyholders’ tolerance levels.

There’s some ding dong going on in the Singapore’s ping pong world.  Men’s coach Yang Chuanning has been sacked from his post after “extensive consultation with the players of the men’s team”, said the Singapore Table Tennis Association. He is pissed that he received no reason but the newspapers alluded to some.

TODAY understands that the male paddlers had complained about the coach’s performance during a review.

The Straits Times understands that the players had given negative feedback regarding Yang, with complaints questioning both his professionalism and capability. Among the gripes were perceived views that Yang does not treat the players equally – and looks down in particular on local-born paddlers – and has also failed to adapt training regimes to the new balls and ahead of big tournaments.

Looks like no one wants to go on the record.

Here’s something even more dramatic: The Sarawakian who was to hang today for the murder of a Chinese construction worker got a last-minute reprieve. His defence lawyer wants to appeal to quash the death sentence. Remember that judges have the discretion now to send people to the gallows or be jailed for life? Three in five judges had said he should hang but it seems the defence wants this re-examined.

By the way, the investigation into the lift accident which severed a woman’s hand will be out today. It’s going to be contentious because the woman’s son is already complaining about how the lift was cleaned of blood stains before investigators arrived. Also, he told ST that his mother spoke to him for the first time about the ordeal. We wonder if investigators have also spoken to her.

 

Featured image by Najeer Yusof. 

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