Singapore Badminton Association CEO Ronnie Lim resigns

His departure to pursue personal goals means more changes after player retirements

SBA chief Ronnie Lim, 42, will leave the association at the end of this month, marking the end of a three-year tenure.
SBA chief Ronnie Lim, 42, will leave the association at the end of this month, marking the end of a three-year tenure. ST FILE PHOTO

Rocked by a string of retirements to key players in recent years, the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) will enter the new year with an enforced change in its senior management.

Chief executive officer Ronnie Lim has resigned to pursue his personal goals and is serving his notice. His last day is on Jan 31.

The 42-year-old joined the SBA in November 2013. He was also the former general manager and head of capital markets at the Singapore branch of the Royal Bank of Canada. He replaced Bobby Lee after the latter's resignation in September 2013, following 18 months in charge.

In a press statement, Lim, a former bank executive who worked in Citigroup and JPMorgan, said his three years in charge of SBA had been very fulfilling.

"During this time, we introduced our first Singaporean chief coach (Chua Yong Joo) and encouraged more locals to pick up badminton as a professional sport," he said in the statement. "My greatest moments are witnessing our athletes win medals at the major Games, which makes me feel especially proud as a Singaporean."

During his three years at the helm, the national shuttlers had mixed results on the courts.

They won a solitary bronze medal (women's doubles) at the 2013 SEA Games in Naypyitaw, Myanmar - the sport's worst Games showing in 16 years. Two years later on home soil, they added four bronzes (men's singles, doubles, both men's and women's team).

Those performances bookended a strong showing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where the now-retired Derek Wong took the men's singles silver.

Chayut Triyachart and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta won the men's doubles silver while Singapore took the bronze in the mixed team event to complete a three-medal haul at the quadrennial Games.

That year also saw the national men's team qualify for the Thomas Cup finals, the first time since 1986 that Singapore gained entry to the prestigious tournament.

However, Wong, 27, retired last year and he was joined by his wife, former world top-10 mixed doubles player Vanessa Neo, 29.

Olympians Xing Aiying, 27, and Yao Lei, 26, also called it a day in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Fu Mingtian, 26, the 2011 SEA Games women's singles champion, quit in 2015.

The SBA fold is now rather thin on experience following their exits.

The latest disruption is also not optimal with the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games eight months away in August.

SBA president Tan Kian Chew, who took over the helm from East Coast MP Lee Yi Shyan last June, told The Straits Times: "It's not ideal any time the CEO resigns, but Ronnie will be with us for another month to assist us. The secretary-general (Michael Foo) and myself will help to cover some of Ronnie's duties as well."

He stressed the association is in good hands with its management and coaching staff and the search for a replacement is already underway. The SBA took three months before settling on Lim in 2013.

Preparations for the Aug 19-31 SEA Games are unaffected by Lim's impending departure, said Tan.

Singapore will likely be led by world No. 27 and Olympian Liang Xiaoyu and SEA Games bronze medallist Loh Kean Yew, the highest-ranked local men's singles player at world No. 164.

This is also a busy period for the SBA as it has opened up a tender bid for the Singapore Open, whose status as a second-tier Superseries event on the Badminton World Federation circuit is uncertain.

The US$350,000 (S$504,560) tournament has been backed by property developer OUE since 2014 and the current three-year extension deal which ends this year is worth $2.2 million.

Tan said: "The team are continuing as per normal and are busy with this upcoming tender project."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'SBA Ceo Ronnie Lim resigns'. Print Edition | Subscribe