Athletics: Yip Renkai to steer athletics back on track?

Former national water polo vice-captain Yip Renkai (right) with SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and national sprinter Shanti Pereira at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August. Yip says "the call to connect and help local sports" was a key reason he accept
Former national water polo vice-captain Yip Renkai (right) with SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and national sprinter Shanti Pereira at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August. Yip says "the call to connect and help local sports" was a key reason he accepted the post of Singapore Athletics general manager.PHOTO COURTESY OF YIP RENKAI

2017 SEA Games team manager aims to improve ties between management, athletes

As a former national water polo vice-captain, Yip Renkai knows that good teamwork and clear communication are key in achieving shared goals.

These are qualities the 34-year-old hopes to encourage within the local athletics fraternity in his new role as Singapore Athletics' (SA) general manager when he starts work next month.

Yip, who is chairman of the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) Athletes Commission, will join SA on a three-year contract after leaving his current position as associate director of partnerships of the T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League.

SA had worked closely with the SNOC and Sport Singapore (SportSG) to appoint a new GM after Jaime Cheong resigned last year citing "a clash in values".

When contacted by The Straits Times yesterday, Yip, who won three SEA Games golds, said "the call to connect and help local sports" was a key reason he accepted the post.

"No one wants all the bad press for NSAs (national sports association), no matter which NSA," he added. "There was the urge to go and see what I can do to give back to help local sports... if I can try to help out and give support, why not?"

Yip is joining SA at a turbulent time, with the association plagued by infighting over the past year. The rancour reached a peak in June, two months before the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, after leaked photos of a WhatsApp conversation appeared to show one of its vice-presidents instructing staff to get two local coaches into trouble.

LET'S DO BETTER

No one wants all the bad press for NSAs , no matter which NSA. There was the urge to go and see what I can do to give back to help local sport... if I can try to help out and give support, why not?

YIP RENKAI, SA's incoming general manager, on his objectives.

Yip attended the biennial Games as team manager for Singapore's athletics squad, after the SNOC and SportSG jointly set up a major Games preparation committee in June to ensure that the athletes' preparations would not be affected by the disharmony within SA.

At the top of Yip's agenda is ensuring that SA's funding from SportSG for the second half of the 2017 financial year, which has been withheld since last November, is reinstated. This is understood to be about $450,000.

"Being team manager at the SEA Games definitely helped me get closer to the track and field athletes and I found that there's a good bunch of talented young athletes who have the potential to grow the sport," he said.

"The key is how do I be the layer that helps to smoothen the relationship between the management committee and the athletes and being from the athletes' commission, it's more of knowing what the athletes need... I'm going to use that experience to see how I can be the key middle person to improve this relationship."

SA president Ho Mun Cheong told ST he believes Yip is the right man, adding: "I found that Renkai did a good job as team manager at the SEA Games, and looked after the athletes and coaches well.

"I wish him all the best and I look forward to working with him."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'Yip to steer athletics on track?'. Print Edition | Subscribe