Tag Archives: Singapore Sailing

Going from special advisor to potential presidential candidate

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Possible SAA rivals still working together

(The Strais Times, 4 June 2010)

DESPITE being thrust into the roles of possible adversaries for the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) presidency, Tang Weng Fei and Low Teo Ping both insist that cooperation between them remains paramount.

This, after a three-hour meeting yesterday between the pair which Low described as ‘amicable’, while Tang maintained that they were ‘still working closely together as a team’.

Both men are the only candidates that remain linked with athletics’ top post, following news that incumbent Loh Lin Kok (who has held the post for much of the last three decades) and Cuesports Singapore president Subhas Anandan have dropped out of the running.

Oil trader Tang, 56, the SAA chief from 2004 to 2006, had announced his candidacy in February. In the 22-page booklet handed out to the media to introduce his team, Low, 65, was listed as his adviser.

 ‘He is still my adviser,’ declared Tang, who returned from China yesterday. ‘He is an authority on sports management and I feel it is important to tap his experience.’ 

He refused to elaborate on the nature of their conversation, however, choosing his words carefully.

‘We were discussing how to take athletics forward. There are a lot of major events this year and we have to start planning and focusing our resources now.’

Meanwhile, Low, the outgoing SingaporeSailing president who is also president of the Singapore Rugby Union, declined to comment on his next move.

Said the retired banker, who is also a vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Council and the International Sailing Federation: ‘Any talk right now would be premature.’

Time, however, is running out with the SAA’s annual general meeting scheduled for June 25. Those who wish to contest any of the 13 posts up for grabs – including three vice-presidents, the honorary secretary and honorary treasurer – must express interest at least seven days before the AGM.



My thoughts:

I’ve been wondering – what would make Low Teo Ping, originally brought in as an advisor to the team that Tang Weng Fei is fielding for the June 25 SAA elections, suddenly entertain, and be highly receptive to, the idea of running for the presidency himself.

Why would a man who is already so highly involved with the Singapore Sports Council and the Singapore National Olympic Council  and who is also the current president of the Singapore Rugby Union, want to take on yet another hat (and arguably the hardest hat to wear in Singapore sport): the presidency of Singapore athletics?

And then it struck me:

Given all the success he has tasted in Singapore sailing, and given the type of go-getting character that he is, it surelystands to reason that Low is thirsting for more opportunities for sports leadership, to see what else he can do and which sport he can make a success of after stepping down from the presidency of Singapore Sailing

And so I reckon that when someone planted the idea of running for the Singapore Athletic Association presidency, that go-getting part of him must have thought “Hey, why not?”

After all, let’s be frank: there’s seriously glory to be obtained in being someone else’s special advisor, not when you are one who is so used to rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in the dirt yourself.

And a job like the SAA presidency must seem like a truly exciting challenge to Low, given the state that it is currently languishing in.

But this in turn begs the question: what about rugby? He is after all the president of the SRU.

Why not get stuck into rugby and devote all your attention to a sport that you are currently helming?

Well, let’s face it – what future is there really in Singapore rugby?

Truly, how far can Singapore rugby truly go? Not that far – and that’s only in Asia.

Its brief stint in the Asian Five Nations last year saw them being thumped by all the other teams and relegated back to Division One. This year, the team fell to Sri Lanka in the Division One final and missed out on promotion.

The bottom line: Singapore rugby’s scope for development is limited. It cannot compete beyond a certain level, unless it is infused with a steady stream of foreign talent (for their skills as well as their size), and honestly, where is the fun in that?

On the other hand, Singapore athletics is so rock bottom now that the only way left to go is up. In other words, it is  replete with so many ample opportunities for Loh’s successor to turn the sport around.

And it’s clear that the Singapore sporting authorities are waiting to bless the new successor with the funds and all other forms of support needed to help turn the Republic’s athletes into South-east Asian champions at the very least (and probably even more funds and support if the winning candidate is one that it prefers).

I suspect that Low did his math and figured that the opportunity to helm the turnaround of  Singapore athletics is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that has to be seized right here and now.  

The only obstacle left in his path is finding a team to lead to the elections. And that is probably why Singapore athletics is now in this weird situation.

But hey, better this weird situation than the current status quo, no? 

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Sailor Joel Pang’s Asian C’ships silver is as good as gold

The report:

As this was a short report, I thought I’d reproduce it in full here instead of making you guys click to my “subsidiary site”, namely singaporesportsfan2.wordpress.com:

Sailors in the medals (TODAY, 14 Oct 2008)


By Tan Yo-Hinn


THE Asian Sailing Championship 2008 came to an end yesterday in Bali and the Singapore team finished with four silver and five bronze medals.


Leading the way was Colin Cheng, the 2006 Laser 4.7 world champion, who won silver in the 12-fleet Laser Standard event. Victoria Chan, the 2006 women’s Laser 4.7 world and European champion, also finished amongst the medals when she took bronze in the Laser Radial event.


Singapore’s other medallists were Claris Liow (optimist girls, silver), Sean Lee and Joel Pang (boys’ 470, silver), Ryan Lo (optimist boys, bronze), Shane Ong (laser standard, bronze), Jovina Choo and Sara Tan (girls’ 470, bronze), and Paul Seet and Aaron Pan (boys’ 420, bronze).


Singapore’s 28-strong squad, made up mostly of national developmental squad sailors, joined 130 sailors from nine countries for the week-long event in Bali.

My thoughts:

I nearly missed this report as it was tucked away in the bottom right corner of the sports pages of TODAY (14 Oct 2008). Thank goodness, I didn’t.

For in the midst of the public furore generated by

a) the announcement of Li Jiawei’s engagement to a Beijing businessman who shares the same surname

b) national table tennis chief coach Liu Guodong’s snub of the new contract that the Singapore Table Tennis Association has offered him, and

c) the possibility that his protege, Feng Tian Wei, may now follow him out of Singapore,

national sailor Joel Pang’s capture of an Asian Championships silver medal in the men’s 470 with Sean Lee came as sweet relief to me – and another affirmation of my faith in our own local sporting talents.

Why did Joel Pang’s silver give me much joy in particular when Singapore won four silvers in total at the Asian meet?

Well, let me tell you a story about Joel and how he ended up in sailing in the first place.

When Joel joined the Singapore Sports School in 2004 as a member of its pioneer batch of 138 students, the Secondary Two student came on board not as a sailor but as a track-and-field trainee.

He was a distance-runner with Whitney Secondary School before switching to the Sports School. Unfortunately, far from realising his dreams of becoming a top junior athlete, Joel found himself suffering a nightmarish three years at the School instead.

One of the top runners at Whitley, Joel soon found himself at the back of the pack at the Sports School. Reality dealt the young man a hard blow: he realised that there were runners at the Sports School who were far better than he was. And no matter how hard he trained, he was not able to keep up with them.  

To make matters worse, over the next two years, Joel also found his juniors gradually catching up and overtaking him. And while his peers were winning medals easily at national schools competitions and international meets, he was coming back from them empty-handed.

Now, just imagine how demoralising it must have been for the young lad, especially in such an intense environment as that of the Sports School.

Even though he was well-liked by the teachers and highly respected among his peers (he was even a student council leader), all these achievements outside of sport did little to lift his spirits.

Because that’s the thing about the Sports School: despite its efforts to provide a good all-rounded education for its student athletes, at the end of the day, one’s sense of identity and self-worth is largely based on one’s achievements on the sporting stage.

So you can just imagine how low Joel must have been feeling with each passing year.

And because of his inability to improve and compete, it also meant that he was watching on with envy while his Track and Field Academy mates were getting selected for international competitions, and winning medals overseas.

It reached a stage when he even contemplated leaving the school and quitting athletics altogether.

Thank goodness then that Koh Aik Beng, the School’s Sailing Academy general manager, took a good look at  Joel – and felt that he had the physique and brains to become a decent sailor.

That was around the tail-end of 2006.

At that time, pint-sized Sean Lee was coming to the end of his glittering career as an Optimist sailor and was going to move into the Men’s 470 class. As a helmsman, Sean would need a strong partner as his crew.

Koh felt Joel would make a good crew – and tried persuading the young man to make the switch to sailing instead of quitting the School. However, he did warn Joel that the learning curve would be a really steep one and that he would have to put in a lot of extra effort to reach a standard of sailing that would enable him to partner Sean.

Apprehensive at first, Joel finally decided to give sailing a go.

I think for the first six months, he must have been wondering what he got himself into as he struggled on the water.

But he perservered and worked hard at his new sport, and as you can see, it’s all turned out good in the end. He’s now a member of Singapore Sailing’s High Performance National Training Squads, and from the looks of it, he and Sean Lee have finally gelled as a partnership.

I’ve been tracking Sean and Joel’s progress over the past two years and if I am not mistaken, this Asian Sailing Championships silver is probably the highest international achievement for the duo in the 470 so far. 

It’s probably the first – or one of the first – sports medals that Joel has ever won.

More importantly, this win is going to give him a huge confidence boost in his sailing abilities.

That’s why I feel that the silver is as good as gold for Joel. The young man truly deserves a gold medal for his perserverance in athletics even when his morale was rock-bottom, for his courage to try out a new sport, and for his determination to succeed in sailing.

I also feel that Singapore Sailing deserves a gold medal for proving, through Joel, that one doesn not need to take the foreign sports talent path to succeed on the international stage. Through its grooming and development of Joel, the NSA has shown that good sporting talent can be found among the locals, if one is willing to try hard enough to spot them and be patient enough to invest enough time and resources on them.

I hope this Asian Championships silver marks the start of an exciting and successful partnership between the two young men and I would really love to see Sean and Joel compete in the Asian Games and the Olympics one day.

Take a bow, Joel.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan 

P/S: I’ll try to secure an email interview with Joel Pang soon and put it up here.

Related links:

23 June – Wanted: a 20 per cent cap on FSTs and a reality check for some NSAs

26 June 2008: Singapore Boleh, Local Talent Boleh

27 June 2008 – Low Teo Ping – the last action hero of Singapore sports

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So we’ve got a few good men (and women). Now what we need are a few more medals

The report:

The Straits Times reported on 8 July ( “Imran is Singapore’s voice in ICC Board“) that former national cricket skipper Imran Hamid has been elected to the International Cricket Council’s board. The Singapore Cricket Association president and lawyer will now represent the 34 non-test playing cricket countries in the ICC. He is also part of a growing number of Singaporean decision makers who have ascended to major positions on world governing bodies.

My thoughts:

Heartiest congratulations to Imran Hamid for being elected to the Internationa Cricket Council’s board.

It’s good to see that he is one of an increasing number of Singaporeans being elected to the international governing bodies of their respective sports. At the end of the day though, it would be great if this growing number of elected Singapore decision-makers can be matched by Singapore’s growing prowess on the world sporting stage.

Because that would be the thing to get Singaporeans excited about Singapore sport, wouldn’t it? Not that we have people being elected to world sporting bodies, but rather, that our locally-born athletes have the ability to hold their own on the world stage despite our country’s lack of size, population and talent, create occasional shocks and upsets against major sporting powerhouses and win major medals.

As mentioned in my previous post, we have had Singaporeans excelling on the world stage.

Alas, these achievements are too few and far between and don’t occur often enough to maintain that buzz of excitement among the people.

Hopefully, that day will come soon and hopefully, it will be our sailors leading that charge. 

Because the sort of energy and effort that SingaporeSailing’s president Low Teo Ping has been putting into the development of our sailors as well as the rock-solid and unwavering belief he has in local talent, really deserves to be richly rewarded.

Hopefully, that reward will finally be reaped at the 2012 London Olympics.

On another note, I was a little perturbed by the inclusion of that quote from ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd on how Imran performed at his first ICC meeting.

“It was his first board meeting but I was very impressed that he did not try to show off or try too hard,” said Murgatroyd. “He listened most of the time, and when he did speak, his opinions were well-considered and sensible.”

I mean, excuse me, but doesn’t that quote sound a tad patronising and colonial? It makes it seem as though we need an outsider’s opinion to convince ourselves that Imran is a good addition to the ICC Board.

Mugatroyd sounded like some headmaster giving out a report card on Imran’s “performance” at his first ICC meeting, and patting him on the head and saying “Well done”, and honestly, I found that distasteful.

Finally, this thought struck me when I saw that outgoing Singapore Table Tennis Association president Choo Wee Khiang is an executive council member of the International Table Tennis Federation.

Given his penchant for using the Foreign Talent Scheme aggressively to turn Singapore into a world table-tennis powerhouse, I was surprised to see that he hadn’t nominated a Foreign Talent to represent him on the ITTF board.

After all, if a Singaporean is not considered good enough to represent his/her country in table tennis at major competitions such as the World Championships or the Olympics, then how can a Singaporean be good enough to sit on the international governing body of the sport?

Oh the irony…

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Related links:

27 June: Low Teo Ping – the last action hero of Singapore sports 

26 June: Singapore boleh, local talent boleh!

20 June: Wanted – a 20 percent cap on FSTs and a reality check for some NSAs

19 June: Singapore table tennis (part 2): Damning quotes, damning facts

18 June: Singapore table tennis: Is there more – or less – than meets the eye?

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