Monthly Archives: August 2008

Newsflash: Elizabeth Yin captures second world sailing title in style

Rising sailing talent Elizabeth Yin captured her second world title in two years when she won the Girls’ title in convincing fashion at the Laser 4.7 World Championships in Trojir, Croatia, this afternoon.

The 17-year-old Victoria Junior Cllege student, who captured the 2006 World Byte Championships girls’ title last year, went into the final day of racing today in pole position. Her nearest rival from the 116-strong fleet was local sailor Matea Senkic.

Elizabeth Yin in action at the Laser 4.7 World Championships. Picture courtesy of Singapore Sailing

Elizabeth Yin in action at the Laser 4.7 World Championships. Picture courtesy of Singapore Sailing

But there was no way Matea could catch Elizabeth today as the latter first consolidated her position at the top with a fifth-placed finish in the 11th race before wrapping up the title in style by winning her final race. She finished with 26 points, 27 less than Matea (53points).

Croatia also took the bronze through Antea Kordic who finished with 73 points.

This is the second time in three years that Singapore has won the Laser 4.7 world title. Former Singapore Sports School student Victoria Chan last won it in 2006. She has since moved to the Laser Radial.

Scott Glenn Sydney missed out on making it a double sweep for Singapore as he finished second out of 279 competitors in the Boys Division today. The 17-year-old student, who is currently studying in Australia, had been sailing a brilliant regatta this past week and went into today’s final two races trailing Israel’s Jacob Shahar by 15 points.  

Scott needed a strong finish to land the title and it seemed that things were going his way when he won his 11th race while Jacob finished in 10th spot. But Scott faded in the last race, finishing 22nd, while Jacob’s 10th spot-finish was enough to give him the title.

Meanwhile, Mark Wong missed out on the medals when he finished fourth in the boys’ emerald fleet. The 13-year-old who was making his debut in the Laser 4.7 was second yesterday but a 32nd-spot finish in his last race caused him to slip to fourth (311 points) in the overall standings, just four points behind Croatia’s Marko Marinov who took bronze with 307 points.

Najwa Jumali finished 25t in the girls’ silver fleet.

Singapore also won a silver and a bronze at the World Byte CII Championships in Weymouth, Britain, today. 

Lei Feng Yi, went into today’s final three races trailing leader Jon Emmett by 20 points. The 16-year-old couldn’t overtake his British rival and hung on for silver as he finished with 39 points, 27 more than Emmett.

Herman Nurfendi, who won a silver at last year’s Championships, was third with 41 points.

The Singapore Sports Fan congratulates all our sailors for continuing to fly Singapore’s flag with pride on the world stage.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Newsflash: STTA saga is over – Antony Lee to leave in November; new head coach for men’s team

The controversy surrounding the “Gao Ning incident” is over, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports announced at a specially-arranged press conference this evening.

After almost a week of intense discussions, the MCYS and the Singapore Table Tennis Association have seemingly resolved all the issues arising from the “Gao Ning incident” which has marred the national women’s team’s capture of the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Said Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan who chaired the press conference: “The crisis is over.”

The Minister was flanked by STTA president Lee Bee Wah, Teo Ser Luck, the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and International Olympic Council executive committee member Ng Ser Miang, who is also the chairman of Project 0812.

Sitting behind them were the coaches of and the players from the men’s and women’s national squads.

(Please click here for a recap amd summary of the “Gao Ning incident”)

It was announced at the press conference that team manager Antony Lee will still be leaving the STTA now that the Olympics are over. However, he will only be leaving in November and not on 31 August, as first anounced by STTA president Lee Bee Wah last week.

Antony Lee – who was seconded to the STTA from the Singapore Sports Council last year – will use the next three months to finish up all paperwork and reports related to the Olympics. He will then move on to a new position at the Singapore National Olympic Council after that. 

It looks too that head coach Liu Guodong will only be taking charge of the women’s national squad from now on.

It was announced at the press conference that there will be two head coaches from now on: a new head coach for the men’s team and one for the women’s team

Prior to this, Liu was overseeing both the men’s and women’s teams.

STTA president Lee Bee Wah – who only became the new STTA president on 12 July – also used the media confernece to publicly apologise for any hurt she may have caused during the “Gao Ning incident”.

“I sincerely apologise for causing any grievances and stress,” she said. 

Teo Ser Luck called for more public support for Lee as she settles into her role as president of the national sports association so that she can bring it to greater heights.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Related links:

29 August – Singapore table tennis: Time for the new STTA regime to decide what are its values

26 August – Singapore table tennis: some foreign talents are clearly more equal than others.

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Singapore table tennis: Time for new STTA regime to decide what are its values

I think I’ve found what I consider to be the best letter that has been written about the entire STTA saga to date. I spotted it in today’s edition of The New Paper, and I just found myself nodding my head again and again as I read it.

It’s by TNP reader Mark Koh Fu MIng and it distills the controversy to its very essence – a clash of values:

“I refer to the article “Can of worms already there” (The New Paper, 28 Aug) on the table tennis saga.

“I feel that Singaporeans should not be blinded by the success of the Singapore women’s table tennis team and be disillusioned by the fundamental principles that have been ignored as a result of wanting success in the women’s event.

“While a player should be able to play without his coach present, such resources should never be lacking in the first place.

“I think it is both unfair to the men’s table tennis team as well as contrary to the Olympic values of sportsmanship, for head coach to justify the situation by claiming that he “would rather the women come in second and the men come in 16th than have both teams come in fourth.”

If Singapore’s participation in the Olympics is all about winning medals, then I am saddened that it is in pursuit of sporting glory without caring a whim about the Olympic values of xcelence, firendship, and respect.

“As a nation, we should allocate equal resources to sportsmen who represent us – regardless of ability – for sporting glory. That is the least we can do in respecting those individuals who have sacrificed so much just to represent our country.

“The table tennis saga has indeed opened a can of worms.

“If in the table tennis team, the men are neglected in terms of resources because the women have a higher chance of sporting success, then would this not imply that, in the future, Singaporeans will be neglected, and resources will be allocated to foreign talent who are deemed to be potentially more capable of achieving sporting excellence?

“With Singapore hosting the Youth Olympics in 2010, I think the nation has to reflect on this relentless pursuit of sporting glory and the means that we resort to in achieving such success.

“How are we going to educate the youths of the world about the Olympic ideals when this entire fiasco has shown our mercenary attitude towards achieving success?”

– From “Champions of a different set of values” (The New Paper, 29 Aug 2008)     

Absolutely brilliant, Mark, and absolutely spot on. And kudos too to The New Paper for publishing this letter.

Why is this letter important?

Simply this: one can continue to debate about who was right or wrong in the “Gao Ning” controversy but the bottom line, I feel, is that this current fiasco represents the perfect time – and the perfect opportunity – for the new STTA regime to take a stand and decide what are its values with regards to the development of the sport in Singapore and the pursuit of sporting excellence.

We now know what the old STTA regime stood for. It was clearly indicated in head coach Liu Guodong’s behaviour and his quotes over the past two days.

Liu even conceded that his relationship with the men’s team went to pieces because he favoured the women. But it is immaterial, he said, because his target was to get a medal and he had delivered.

In yesterday’s edition of The Straits Times, Liu was also quoted as saying that he would now only consider staying on as head coach if he is given the following assurances about his role:

“I need space to do my job. I need to be able to make decisions that won’t be second-guessed. And I can’t have people trying to disrupt what I am trying to achieve here.”

– From “Now Undecided” (The Straits Times, 28 August 2008)

In other words, Liu is unrepentent about how he went about achieving the feat of winning Singapore’s first Olympic medal since 1960. And he wants to continue to do things his way.

Now, the new STTA regime has to decide: does it want this kind of coaching philosophy to continue?

It’s cold, brutal and cynical but hey, it delivers results, doesn’t it?

So is this what the STTA wants ultimately as it seeks to build upon the foundations for excellence laid down by the women’s team silver medal win?

Is this good for the long-term interests of the sport?

What does this mean for the development of local talent especially when one knows that our local paddlers will probably never be good enough to compete at Olympic level.  

These are tough questions. Once answered, they will not only form the STTA’s guiding principles for the governance of the sport in Singapore, but could well also form the blueprint for the pursuit of sporting glory for all other national sports associations.

Now, that’s a scary thought.. 

So keep your eyes opened over the next few days or months.

Because you could well be witnessing either the re-birth of the development of local table-tennis talent – and Singapore sport in general – or hearing its death knell.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan 

Related links

26 Aug: Singapore Table Tennis – Some foreign talents are clearly more equal than others

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