Triathlon: Trial winner a doubt for SEA Games

Winona Howe (right) and Denise Chia racing during the SEA Games triathlon selection trial in January. They were the top two finishers and were nominated to compete at the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur Games but Howe could miss out.
Winona Howe (right) and Denise Chia racing during the SEA Games triathlon selection trial in January. They were the top two finishers and were nominated to compete at the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur Games but Howe could miss out.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Perth-based Howe unlikely to get nod from TAS after failing to meet other criteria

Winona Howe, the top woman finisher at the Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) SEA Games selection race in January, could miss out on the biennial affair in August.

The Straits Times understands that the TAS' SEA Games selection panel has informed Howe, who is studying and training in Perth, Australia, that it will recommend the withdrawal of her nomination during a TAS management committee meeting this weekend.

The top two finishers at the selection race were nominated for the SEA Games. Howe finished in 2hr 14min 24sec, ahead of Denise Chia (2:15:15).

A national sports association's final nominations have to be submitted to the Singapore National Olympic Council before Friday.

The three-member panel said it arrived at this decision as Howe did not fulfil other obligations listed as part of its Games selection criteria, including submitting a training plan and keeping TAS "updated on their (the athletes') training programme and racing progress".

TAS high performance manager Eugene Ong, who sits on the panel, told ST: "Athletes were required to submit training plans but Winona submitted hers very late despite numerous reminders.

"After the selection race, we had a briefing where we specified what the athletes needed to submit."

DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS

It wasn't like this in 2015. Previously, we listed what we were doing each day and the distance and it was enough.

WINONA HOWE , Singapore's triathlon representative at the 2015 SEA Games, on TAS' selection criteria this year.


BE ACCOUNTABLE

Athletes have to be responsible for their actions. These are elite athletes we are talking about.

EUGENE ONG , TAS high performance manager, on the expectations the national sports association has of its athletes.

Howe said she had tried to comply with the TAS' selection guidelines. The 22-year-old admitted that she submitted her training plan late and was told by Steven Chan, chairman of TAS' development committee, that it was not comprehensive enough.

Howe, who also competed at the 2015 SEA Games where she crashed out in the bike leg, said: "I was told it was not detailed enough but TAS didn't tell me what details they wanted. I know it's urgent so I asked Steven for examples but he didn't give me any. It wasn't like this in 2015. Previously, we listed what we were doing each day and the distance and it was enough."

To that, Ong replied: "Athletes have to be responsible for their actions. These are elite athletes we are talking about."

A poor race in Taipei on Sunday did Howe no favours either. She finished last in a 15-strong field with a time of 2:44:51, although she said she was suffering from a viral infection. Fellow Singaporean Jeremia Christy Suriadi was ninth in 2:20:27 and is on the Games' squad's reserve list.

Howe, who is pursuing a diploma in hospitality management at the Australian Professional Skills Institute in Perth, has been given till today to appeal against the decision.

She said she would submit more training plans to the TAS before the appeal deadline although she remains unclear on what is required.

She said: "It's very tiresome, with all the documents they want from me. The whole incident is really stressing me.

"If they feel that there is someone better than me, I will accept their decision and concentrate on qualifying for next year's Commonwealth and Asian Games."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Trial winner a doubt for games'. Print Edition | Subscribe