Athletics: Shanti's mentor Margaret Oh in the running for coach job

Shanti Pereira, who blossomed under coach Margaret Oh, made headlines with her 200m victory in the SEA Games in June.
Shanti Pereira, who blossomed under coach Margaret Oh, made headlines with her 200m victory in the SEA Games in June.PHOTO COURTESY OF MARGARET OH

Oh among candidates being considered by Singapore Athletics to form a coaching panel

Widely credited with grooming Shanti Pereira into this year's SEA Games 200m champion, local athletics coach Margaret Oh could soon become a key mentor for more budding talents.

The Straits Times understands that Oh, formerly with the Singapore Sports School, is one of the candidates that local track and field body Singapore Athletics (SA) is looking to hire, as part of an overall revamp of its coaching structure.

It is believed that, instead of appointing a technical director, SA will form a coaching panel to work with its youth (Under-17), junior (U-19) and senior athletes.

This panel will be made up of mostly local coaches and will work with national sprints and hurdles coach Luis Cunha.

Oh is among the leading candidates considered for the panel.

In response to questions from The Straits Times, Damon Yong, the general manager of SA, said: "Singapore Athletics is reviewing our coaching structure to leverage on the knowledge and experience of coaches in the larger community.

"The training and selection committee is currently in consultation with Luis and other stakeholders to discuss the revisions."

He added that more details will be released at a later date.

SA president Tang Weng Fei, who is on a business trip in Myanmar, said his executive committee will meet more candidates in the coming weeks.

Oh, a former national sprinter, is among a number of local coaches whose proteges shone in June's SEA Games in Singapore.

In the four years under her tutelage, Shanti was transformed from a promising youngster to this year's SEA Games 200m gold medallist.

It was Singapore's first sprint title in 42 years. The 18-year-old also won a bronze in the 100m.

High jumper Michelle Sng (bronze), pole vaulter Rachel Yang (silver) and discus thrower Hannah Lee (bronze) also bagged their first SEA Games medals in June.

They are mentored by ex-national athletes Chan See Huey, David Yeo and James Wong respectively.

A local coach, who declined to be named, said: "It's still too early to say but the SA needs to be creative for this to work.

"In Singapore, most athletes follow a coach for the duration of their career, so plucking them out suddenly to work with coaches on the panel might not be productive."

However, Sng, who credits Chan, a former long-jump and triple-jump national record-holder, for coaxing her out of a five-year hiatus, welcomes the move.

She said: "I know some athletes who might feel lost if their coaches retire.

"This panel seems to recognise the efforts of local coaches, and could be great in that it allows athletes to slowly move up the system, from youth to national team."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2015, with the headline 'SHANTI'S MENTOR IN THE RUNNING FOR COACH JOB'. Print Edition | Subscribe