Athletics: Herrmann to adjust management style

Singapore Athletics technical director Volker Herrmann plans to improve his manner of communication.
Singapore Athletics technical director Volker Herrmann plans to improve his manner of communication.

Some issues arose partly due to his impatient nature, concedes athletics technical director

Singapore Athletics (SA) technical director Volker Herrmann, who has been criticised by several top national athletes for his brusque management style, admitted yesterday that he would tweak his approach when interacting with local athletes and coaches.

The 33-year-old German stressed however, that several of the arguments which had arisen were the result of misunderstandings.

Herrmann told The Straits Times yesterday that he would seek a fuller picture from SA president Ho Mun Cheong regarding the complaints made against him before trying to resolve any issues with the affected parties.

When contacted, Ho confirmed that Herrmann had reached out to him, and reiterated that the complaints would be investigated.

National athletes and SEA Games medallists Dipna Lim-Prasad, Rachel Yang and Soh Rui Yong had this week voiced their various differences with Herrmann.

Herrmann, who officially started work in April and is on a two-year-contract, admitted the friction caused was partly due to his impatient nature. "I think I have to adjust my expectations and be a bit more patient ... maybe I wanted to initiate too many changes too fast, and I understand that it might take a bit more time," he said.

The Cologne native, who was previously head coach of the Bavarian state sprint team, and is also an IAAF-accredited lecturer in sprint and jump events, was adamant that he was the right man to improve the sport in Singapore.

He said: "I'm not talking just about at SEA Games level, we have enough talent to make it to (the podium) at the Asian Games or Asian Athletics Championships.

"I think we have to find a way to have a better understanding of one another. Maybe I just have to find a different way to deliver the same message."

Among the criticisms levelled against him was his insensitive behaviour towards Luis Cunha. The Portuguese coaches Lim-Prasad and national sprinter Wendy Enn.

Enn, who was part of the 4x100m relay quartet that set a national record at last month's Kuala Lumpur Games, revealed she had met Herrmann on Wednesday to discuss her concerns.

The 23-year-old added that she hoped for three-way communication between Herrmann, Cunha and herself.

"It's been quite rocky and there's been a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings going on," she said.

"His intentions are good, but (the way they are expressed) can come off the wrong way and cause misunderstandings. I don't doubt he can bring the sport forward, but he has to do it in a more effective way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Herrmann to adjust management style'. Print Edition | Subscribe