Athletics: SA vice-president will not relinquish management committee seat

One of the issues that surfaced was the location of the pre-SEA Games centralised training camp for the track and field team, which was originally slated to be held in Taiwan.
One of the issues that surfaced was the location of the pre-SEA Games centralised training camp for the track and field team, which was originally slated to be held in Taiwan.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Under-fire Singapore Athletics (SA) vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran insisted that he will not be stepping down voluntarily from the association's management committee.

In the wake of last Sunday's leaked WhatsApp messages that seemed to show him instructing SA staff to get coach Margaret Oh into trouble, Balasekaran told The Straits Times yesterday that his conscience is clear, and he is not harbouring any hurtful intentions against officials.

He said: "I will not step down. If I can stay for 10 more years in SA, I would.

"Why should I step down? I am not the one who has done anything wrong or stirred up trouble here. Instead, my team (of five SA management committee members) have been doing so many things behind the scenes for the good of athletics.

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"We've got the support of athletes too. We have plans coming up after the SEA Games and we'll go ahead with the work.

"Yet we are getting the flak. I have been wrongly accused and portrayed as the bad guy."

It is believed that SA president Ho Mun Cheong is seeking legal advice on the next course of action to take following this incident, which comes just two months before the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

On Sunday, a series of messages from Balasekaran apparently instructing staff to collect evidence against coaches Oh (sprint) and David Yeo (pole vault) were circulated.

One of the issues that surfaced from the dispute was the location of the pre-SEA Games centralised training camp for the track and field team, which was originally slated to be held in Taiwan.

However, Oh had questioned the venue's suitability and opposed to sending her charge, the reigning SEA Games 200m champion Shanti Pereira, to the camp. This became a bone of contention between SA technical director Volker Herrmann and Oh.

On Monday, the SA management committee had agreed to not have the training camp in Taiwan, and both Oh and Pereira will be joining the camp.

Balasekaran claimed that he has been wronged and quoted out of context in the leaked messages.

He said: "It was never my intention to (harm) Margaret. We were having a private discussion in the group and I never started a feud."

Oh refused to believe Balasekaran's account, but said that for now, she just wants peace for the sake of training Pereira.

She said: "I just want to block out and I don't want to be disturbed by all these things anymore, as we train for the SEA Games."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'SA V-P will not relinquish management committee seat'. Print Edition | Subscribe