SportSG, Singapore Ice Skating Association, 'dismayed' by Yu Shuran's allegations of abuse

Former national figure skater Yu Shuran revealed in an Instagram post that the physical abuse started when she was 11 years old. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) are "dismayed" to learn of the alleged abuse suffered by former national figure skater Yu Shuran while she was training in China.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for the national sports agency said on Friday (July 24): "The well-being of all athletes is paramount to the legitimacy of sport.

"(Yu) has reached out to Sisa's safeguarding officer and the Safe Sport Taskforce, and we are supporting her as necessary."

The 19-year-old Yu, who was born and raised in Beijing to a Chinese mother and Singaporean father, had on Wednesday (July 22) opened up about the alleged abuse she suffered while training in China, revealing in an Instagram post that the physical abuse started when she was 11 years old.

The abuse included her being hit by her coach repeatedly with a plastic blade guard till her skin was raw and getting kicked by the toe-pick of her coach's blade - the small, jagged edges at the front of the blade. Once, during an overseas training camp, she had also been driven to a secluded area, and was dragged out of the car for a beating as punishment for a bad practice session.

The SportSG spokesman said: "Safe sport policies and measures continue to be enhanced for sport in Singapore. To date, nearly 100 safeguarding officers have been trained and a number of safe sport engagements for the sporting community on how we may collectively safeguard sport have been staged.

"All efforts are taken to ensure everyone in the fraternity - athletes, coaches and officials, understand how crucial safe sport is and are aware of the due reporting process for athletes to either a Safeguarding Officer or directly to the Safe Sport Taskforce.

"These efforts must continue unabated. Our National Sports Associations (NSAs) do keep our overseas-based athletes informed and updated on the support channels in place for them. Overseas-based athletes can reach out to the safeguarding officers in their NSAs should they require advice and support."

Sisa, which governs the sport here, thanked 2017 SEA Games champion Yu for reaching out.

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"And we applaud her courage to be able to speak about her experience with being abused by her private coach in the hope that it will help others in a similar position," said Sisa president Alison Chan yesterday in response to queries from ST.

"We have been in touch with Shuran and are working closely with the Safe Sport Taskforce to support her and to build on this to increase public awareness of safe sport initiatives."

Chan noted that the association is in regular contact with its athletes who are based overseas, and that Yu's revelation is "a timely reminder for us to constantly check in on their well-being on top of their sporting progress and development".

"Additionally, athletes who are on training stints overseas may face increased risk, particularly if they are training in an unfamiliar environment," she added.

"Sisa will continue to review our athletes, their overseas coaches and training programmes."

Yu, who in 2017 was the first Singaporean figure skater to qualify for the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships, told The Straits Times on Thursday that she spoke to both organisations last week.

The Safe Sport Commission, which was launched last year to look into preventive measures to safeguard athletes, coaches and other sport participants, was set up by SportSG in partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Police Force.

Having never lived or trained extensively here, Yu, who is now a student at Fordham University in New York, stressed that she is in no position to comment on whether athlete abuse is an issue in Singapore.

But she told ST: "If it is an issue in Singapore, I really hope that people can talk about it and that people feel that they can reach out to the Safe Sport Taskforce, and that they can, in a safe way, leave their toxic environment and get into a healthier environment without losing all of their hard work.

"And I think I would be thrilled if more people were able to speak up.

"I was silent for a long time and right now, I don't intend on being anything but loud about this, because if I'm not loud about it... this issue overall will still be ignored."

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