Herrmann steps down as SA's technical director

Volker Herrmann reportedly resigned last week, months before the end of his two-year contract.
Volker Herrmann reportedly resigned last week, months before the end of his two-year contract.

Singapore Athletics (SA) technical director Volker Herrmann has resigned and will leave his post on Dec 2, the national sports association said in a media statement yesterday.

The Straits Times understands that the German resigned last week, and he will leave just months before the end of his two-year contract early next year.

The 34-year-old, who plans to continue consultancy work with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Asian Athletics Association's Regional Development Centre, said in the SA statement: "It has been a rewarding experience working in Singapore over the past 19 months.

"I would like to thank SA and all other partner agencies for the opportunity to help develop the sport in Singapore, and I look forward to other opportunities to work with SA on future projects and development."

SA president Tang Weng Fei thanked Herrmann for his contributions in the same statement. The athletics body said it will not find a replacement for Herrmann, but instead appoint a head of coaching development in due course.

Herrmann joined SA in April last year after being recommended by the IAAF. Before that, he was the head coach for the Bavarian sprint team and is also an IAAF-accredited lecturer in sprint and jump events. He was SA's first technical director in seven years, after former distance runner C. Veeramani held the role from 2008 to 2010.

Herrmann's stint with SA was far from smooth-sailing. Formal complaints were filed against him last year by national athletes Dipna Lim-Prasad (sprints/hurdles), Rachel Yang (pole vault) and Soh Rui Yong (marathon).

 
 
 

He was part of a controversial WhatsApp conversation in June last year which appeared to show former SA vice-president Govindasamy Balasekaran instructing staff to collect evidence so that disciplinary action could be taken against local coaches Margaret Oh and David Yeo. A three-member independent disciplinary committee was formed in March to investigate.

Contacted by ST, Oh would only say of Herrmann's impending departure: "I wish him the best of luck."

Soh said: "We'd be wise to learn from this lesson - foreign and well-certified do not always equal to better. The candidate has to have soft skills, be adaptable and humble enough to learn the local context and help coaches and athletes along.

"I wish Volker all the best in his future pursuits and hope this was a good learning experience for him."

Sprinter Timothee Yap, who was part of the men's 4x100m relay team that Herrmann oversaw, had "mixed feelings" about the news.

He said: "From one perspective, he really tried to put in the effort to improve our system and he has the technical expertise and, maybe if he was given a longer period of time in Singapore, he would have made a larger impact. But, at the same time, I think he stepped on too many toes and it made his job more difficult."

SA also announced yesterday the formation of a coaching and development sub-committee, which will be chaired by its vice-president of training and selection Malik Aljunied. He will be assisted by SA's vice-president of finance and partnerships Poh Seng Song, a former national sprinter.

The committee will oversee the development of athletics coaches in Singapore, including coaches' education programmes for current and budding coaches.

In addition, the NSA will appoint in due course head coaches for the various event groups - sprints and hurdles, middle and long distance and road races, throws, jumps and combined events.

Nicole Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2018, with the headline 'Herrmann steps down as SA's technical director'. Print Edition | Subscribe