This report came out in today’s edition of The Straits Times:
Loh has his wards to thank for award (The Straits Times, 27 February 2009)
By Lin Xinyi
HIS charges found the perfect way to relay the message that Loh Chan Pew deserves recognition.
Never mind that the Singapore Athletic Association was not prepared to grant him that – after recently axing the man who coached the national 4x100m women’s relay team to a national record in 2007.
Sprinters Amanda Choo and Ann Siao Mei were among those who nominated the 64-year-old for the POSB Everyday Champions award, which he received yesterday at an award ceremony at the St Regis Hotel.
Loh was one of 57 winners in three categories (individuals, coaches and organisations) to receive a trophy and certificate from guest-of-honour President SR Nathan.
The inaugural award is the country’s highest honour for sporting inspiration, and was created by merging the Sporting Singapore Inspiration Awards and the Coach Recognition Awards.
Addressing the winners, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said: ‘I hope you will continue to serve as inspiration for many others out there… and continue to teach values of life.’
Peter Churchill, who coaches national swimmer Tao Li; and Valeri Obidko, the coach of national triple jump record-holder Stefan Tseng, were among the other recipients.
Despite receiving 3,375 nominations – with 878 nominees in the coaches category – Singapore Sports Council member Richard Seow, who headed the award selection panel, said that the choice to award Loh was not a difficult one.
For Loh, his athletes are what matters most, in more ways than one.
He said: ‘The people who have worked with me know what I’ve done, and that is what’s most important to me.’
He also vowed not to give up on what he loves, despite the recent controversy.
‘I can be taken out of the association,’ he said, ‘but I will continue to scout, train and produce talents till I drop dead.’
Choo and Ann believe that the recognition is overdue.
Choo, who broke the national 100m record in 2007 under Loh’s tutelage, said: ‘He doesn’t just focus on what we do on the track. He cares about our welfare too.
‘He’s like a grandfather to us.’
It is reports like this that amply demonstrate and show up the level of disconnect between the Singapore Athletic Association and its national athletes.
What is clear here is the strong affection that members of the national women’s 4x100m relay squad feel for their former coach Loh Chan Pew and how he has been more than just a coach to them.
It is clear that he is also a mentor, a father figure and a source of inspiration.
Which makes the SAA’s decision to sack Loh a couple of weeks back even more perplexing.
What I still don’t understand is the reason being cited for Loh’s dismissal – that he doesn’t have the qualifications to coach the squad.
I mean, did any of the higher sports bodies such as the Singapore National Olympic Council or the Singapore Sports Council hold a gun against the SAA’s head and tell it to get rid of Loh because he didn’t have a Level 4 or 5 coaching certificate?
Would the women be barred from competing in the 4x100m relay final at the SEA Games in Laos, or would they be disqualified or stripped of their SEA Games medals if they finish in the top three, just because Loh is not qualified enough?
By sacking Loh, the SAA has thrown the national relay squad into emotional turmoil and effectively sabotaged Singapore’s chances of a first SEA Games track medal since 2001.
Thing is, does the SAA care? It probably does not.
And because people have short memories, here again is the piece of advice which I gave to the members of the national women’s 4x100m relay squad in my previous comment on this fiasco:
If you want to make the higher authorities sit up and take notice, if you want to drive home your frustration and anger at the SAA, then don’t quit the squad now.
Train hard for the SEA Games so that you will end up winning a medal or setting a new national record. Then, at that point in time, use the platform and opportunity to register your anger at the SAA over the way Loh was treated.
Here’s my previous entry again, ladies:
Have a good and hard think about it.
In the meantime, my heartiest congratulations to Mr Loh for winning the Award.
Inspirational coaches like you are hard to come by and I am very heartened by your determination to continue coaching, unearthing and grooming new sprinting talents for Singapore.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan