The Straits Times reported recently that Loh Chan Pew, the man who coached our national women sprinters to a new national 4x100m relay record in 2007, has been axed by the Singapore Athletic Association.
According to the SAA, Loh was replaced because the SAA wanted new blood at the helm and because he did not have the minimum coaching qualification standards.
However, insiders say that Loh was axed because he does not see eye to eye with the current SAA administration.
Loh, 63, currently has a Level 2 coaching qualification. He was replaced by Tang Ngai Kin, 56, who has a Level 5 qualification.
You can read the report here.
Naturally, the decision has shocked and traumatised the closely-knit national women’s relay team. After all, most of them had been training under Loh since 2003. And the signs of disillusionment are starting to show.
Only two members of the team – national record holder Amanda Choo and national junior record holder Balpreet Kaur – showed up for Tang’s first training session at Gombak Stadium on Saturday.
The remaining three – Ann Siao Mei, Wong Ze Teng and Lee Yan Lin – said they were sick and did not turn up.
“I’m not here to steal anyone’s athletes or to take the limelight,” said Tang. “The girls can still train under Chan Pew on other days.’
You can read the report here.
To the five members of the national women’s 4x100m relay squad – if you are thinking of quitting the squad because you are upset that Coach Loh has been sacked or badly treated by the SAA, here’s my advice: DON’T DO IT.
Why? Because doing that will just be a knee-jerk emotional reaction which will not benefit you, the squad or Coach Loh in the long run.
Yes, you may be angry with the SAA right now, but trust me, the best way to publicly show your support for Coach Loh is not by getting mad. It is by getting even.
And it entails a long-term plan which will require a lot of discipline to stick to. It may sound hard to do but it can be achieved if you learn to channel your anger the right way.
So what’s the plan? Simple – Just continue training hard so that you girls will qualify for the SEA Games.
And when you finally get to Laos, go all out to win a medal or set a new national record.
How will this help you to show your support for Coach Loh?
Look at it this way: when you girls win a medal – which would be Singapore’s first in the women’s 4x100m relay since 1997 – or set a new national record, you can be sure that every Singapore newspaper will be writing about your feat and taking photos of you.
That’s when you can publicly dedicate your win to Coach Loh and even come out to voice your thoughts on the way he was treated by the SAA.
And this I can promise you: it will all come out in the press. Why? Because it is a juicy story which cannot be ignored.
And who can stop you? Nobody – because you have accomplished a great feat for Singapore sport, and because comment is free, isn’t it?
Hey, you may even want to consider wearing t-shirts under your national tracksuits which you can unveil after stepping down from the podium.
Just think how powerful the visual message will be if each t-shirt carries a word which, when when you girls stand together, form the sentence: “This-is-for-Coach-Loh” or “SAA-Wrong-To-Sack-Coach”.
Of course, after you’ve achieved all that, do remember to be gracious and thank Coach Tang for his help too.
After all, I don’t think one can hold his new relay coach appointment against him. He’s just doing his job, he’s just carrying out what the SAA has asked him to do. And at the end of the day, he just wants to see Singapore athletics succeed, inspite of all the sickening politics and political manuevering that has plagued and dragged the sport through the mud these past two decades.
And after you girls publicly display your support for Coach Loh, you can then finally declare your retirement from track.
After all, let’s be realistic: based on your timings, what is really left for you to achieve after winning a SEA Games medal and setting a new national record?
A relay medal at the Asian Games? Highly unlikely, right?
More importantly, you would be walking away at the right time – at the height of your success.
In other words, quitting now is the wrong thing to do.
Simply because you will be wasting all those years of training, and you will be letting down the team that you’ve trained so hard with.
You will also be letting down Coach Loh, and you will only be giving the SAA added ammunition to slag off your coach and local athletes.
In fact, I can almost hear the top people at the SAA saying: “See, we were right to sack him. Look at his athletes – no discipline, no fighting spirit…”
You will also become a forgotten statistic in local athletics.
But if you plan your exit well, and do it in style, you can be sure that eyebrows will be raised in the right places and questions will be asked of the SAA’s move to axe Loh in the first place.
Have a good think about it, girls.
Don’t act rashly now – for your sake, for the team’s sake, and for Coach Loh’s sake.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan