SINGAPORE - Sport Singapore (SportSG), the national governing body for sports associations, has urged officials at Singapore Athletics (SA) to look past their divisions, following revelations that reflect the rancour within their ranks.
Leaked WhatsApp conversations had highlighted top brass such as vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran instructing staff to"get good evidence" to be shown to "P" - believed to be SA president Ho Mun Cheong - and "force him to get disciplinary action" on coaches Margaret Oh (sprint) and David Yeo (pole vault).
Balasekaran also wrote: "Margaret needs to get into trouble so we can take action on her."
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "The interests of the country and athlete should be placed above all else. It is therefore disappointing that continuing distrust and discord in the team leading Singapore Athletics is hurting the sport.
"We urge all parties to come to the table, put aside their personal differences and work professionally towards the common objective of preparing our athletes to be in the best position to perform at the upcoming SEA Games."
The surfacing of the WhatsApp conversation comes on the back of a troubling few months at the local track and field governing body. SA president Ho Mun Cheong and vice-president Loh Chan Pew (competitions organising) have been at loggerheads with other members of the SA management, led by Balasekaran, an associate professor at the National Institute of Education, and head of its physical education and sports science department.
The discord came to a head last month, when Ho called for an extraordinary general meeting to hold snap polls and elect a new management committee. The election did not happen after the meeting was called off a day before it was slated to take place.
There have also been disagreements between management and local coaches such as Oh and Yeo, involving arrangements concerning their charges.
Sprinter Shanti Pereira, in particular, had been told that she would be dropped from the 4x100m team at the Aug 19-30 SEA Games should she skip a centralised training camp next month. The 20-year-old is the nation's fastest woman sprinter, holding the national record in both the 100m and 200m sprints. She also won the 200m at the last Games held on home soil.