German Herrman favoured for technical director post at Singapore Athletics

Volker Herrmann conducted workshops in Singapore last month.
Volker Herrmann conducted workshops in Singapore last month.

German expert is front runner for SA's post of technical director as KL SEA Games loom

After a four-month search, the hunt by Singapore Athletics (SA) for foreign expertise to helm the sport's high-performance programme and chart the overall progress of both coaches and athletes here is almost over.

The Straits Times understands that the association will appoint a new technical director within the coming weeks, with German Volker Herrmann the frontrunner for the role.

It will be the first time since 2010, when former distance runner C. Veeramani held the position, that the post of technical director will be filled.

Herrmann, 32, is currently head coach for the Bavarian sprint team, and impressed when he was in Singapore last month to conduct workshops for athletes and coaches.

National sprinter Shanti Pereira and high jumper Michelle Sng were among the athletes who worked with him during that stint.

SA president Ho Mun Cheong told ST yesterday: "Volker is very knowledgeable and comes highly recommended.

"We were quite impressed with his work when he was here last month and we think that he will be able to help athletics in Singapore."

Herrmann is also accredited as an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) lecturer in sprint and jump events.

Added vice-president (training and selection) G. Balasekaran: "He's been dealing with the IAAF for quite some time and has been teaching at a high level.

"He did a lot of workshops with athletes when he was here and showed that he's very capable of demonstrating and teaching."

National 110m hurdles record holder Ang Chen Xiang, who trained with Herrmann five times over two weeks, said the German brings with him a scientific approach.

He said: "He explains to us the scientific principles behind why we do what we do, which allows us to better focus on the drills. He also has a watchful eye for our technique."

A decision is expected to be finalised by the end of the month, with any offer expected to be for two years, with an option to extend the contract for a further year.

Besides taking charge of the high-performance programme of national athletes, the new technical director will be expected by SA to help raise the overall level of local coaches here.

Said Balasekaran: "There are so many events in track and field, so coaches need to be very event-specific. We want to develop our local coaches and need somebody to help bring them to that level."

Added Ho: "Our immediate goal is next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

"There's no time to waste."

Meanwhile, SA has revealed that national coach (sprints, relays and hurdles) Luis Cunha will not have his contract extended when it expires at the end of the month, but said it will not bar athletes from continuing to train under the Portuguese if they wish to do so.

When contacted, Cunha said he is in the midst of working out the details of his future plans.

Some athletes who have grown accustomed to training under Cunha feel a change of coach at this juncture will be disruptive.

Said hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad: "We're waiting to meet the association to discuss its plans for us now that Luis is leaving. The athlete-coach bond is very important and it took us time to settle in with Luis.

"A change with just 10 months to go before next year's SEA Games is not ideal nor conducive to results but we'll just have to manage with the changes as best as we can."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Herrmann favoured for top position'. Print Edition | Subscribe