Athletics: Remove posts or risk legal action, pole vaulter Rachel Yang told

S'pore Athletics manager Ong says pole vaulter's remarks are unjustified & hurt her reputation

The dispute over 2017 SEA Games bronze medallist Rachel Yang's social media posts is the latest spat to hit the athletics association.
The dispute over 2017 SEA Games bronze medallist Rachel Yang's social media posts is the latest spat to hit the athletics association.

Another dispute has erupted in local track and field, with Singapore Athletics' (SA) manager of sports development and performance Ong Wan Xin requesting that national pole vaulter Rachel Yang retract comments posted on social media.

Sources told The Straits Times (ST) that Ong issued a lawyer's letter to Yang yesterday afternoon.

When contacted by ST, the 36-year-old confirmed that the letter requested that Yang, 35, "removes and retracts the malicious and unjustified statements she published, which has injured and disparaged (Ong's) reputation".

Ong added: "Rachel has sent numerous e-mails and posted on social media on several occasions words which have assassinated my character and reputation.

"Apart from publicly embarrassing me personally, she has also publicly questioned my professionalism as a manager in SA."

In July, a post on Yang's Facebook page criticised a staff member at the SA secretariat for "exhibiting negligence". Although she did not name the official, she referred to the staff member as the "Sports and Development Manager".

A month earlier, Yang had been stranded at Hong Kong International Airport after she and her coach David Yeo - who is also her husband - could not board their flight as no prior arrangements had been made for her equipment to be checked in.

Yang had been competing in the Hong Kong Inter-City Athletics Championships, where she won gold.

Yesterday, Ong stressed that she was not seeking financial compensation, but merely wants Yang to take down her posts and retract her statements in her e-mails.

"It would be a bonus to me if she apologises publicly... I really hope I do not have to take Rachel to court," she added. "If she does not retract and remove her publications, I will get further legal advice on my next course of action."

Ong said she had asked her lawyer to give Yang a "reasonable timeline" to remove her posts.

She also said she had informed SA president Ho Mun Cheong that Yang's remarks "injure (her) reputation as a professional (working) in SA", and that he had advised her to consider taking legal action.

Ho said: "I informed Wan Xin that I wanted to wrap up the fact-finding surrounding the incident with Rachel in Hong Kong.

"This is a private matter between them. I told her that if she felt that she was being defamed, she could consider legal action."

Ho admitted that the latest turn of events was "unfortunate", but added that he hoped both parties would resolve the issue between themselves soon.

When contacted, Yang declined comment. ST understands that a clause in Ong's letter advises Yang against speaking to media about the matter, but that Yang is planning her next course of action.

The incident is the latest in a series of spats to hit the fraternity this year. In April, a spate of disagreements prompted 10 of the association's 21 affiliates to call for an extraordinary general meeting to elect new leaders.

This was eventually called off following an intervention by International Olympic Committee member Ng Ser Miang.

In June, there were further incidents that revealed the degree of hostility within the SA ranks, including leaked photos of a controversial WhatsApp conversation and a disagreement between technical director Volker Herrmann and local coach Margaret Oh.

On Thursday, Herrmann was again in the news when several leading national athletes including Kuala Lumpur SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong and double silver medallist Dipna Lim-Prasad raised concerns about his management style. That led to Herrmann, who insisted he only wanted the athletes to reach their potential, pledging to adjust his management style.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2017, with the headline 'Remove posts or risk legal action, Yang told'. Subscribe