SINGAPORE - Former national water polo vice-captain Yip Renkai will be Singapore Athletics' (SA) new general manager starting next month. He replaces Jaime Cheong, who resigned last year.
The 34-year-old Yip, who is chairman of the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) Athletes Commission, will join the association on a three-year contract. He is now associate director of partnerships of the T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC).
SA had worked closely with the SNOC and national sports governing body Sport Singapore (SportSG) to appoint a new GM.
When contacted by The Straits Times, Yip confirmed his new appointment, saying "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. The association has been plagued with infighting. 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.
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 his agenda is ensuring that SA's funding from SportSG, which has been withheld since July, is reinstated.
"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," said Yip.
"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."
Responding to queries from ST, SA president Ho Mun Cheong said he believes Yip will make a good general manager, 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."