Singapore Sports: Yang among 37 who make KL Games cut

National pole vaulter Rachel Yang will be representing Singapore at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30. She holds the national record of 3.91m in her event.
National pole vaulter Rachel Yang will be representing Singapore at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30. She holds the national record of 3.91m in her event.ST FILE PHOTO

They clinch spots upon appeal via NSAs, with karatekas getting nod for 1st outing since 2011

She had not been feeling well after being stranded at the Hong Kong International Airport for almost 24 hours after her flight could not check in her competition poles.

But upon arrival back home yesterday, national pole vaulter Rachel Yang received a piece of good news after her ordeal: She has been chosen after an appeal to represent the Republic in the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

She is among 37 athletes representing 10 sports who were successful in their appeals put forward by their respective national sports associations, in a list released by Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) yesterday.

Yang was confident she would earn her ticket to KL, after she cleared the 3.60m qualifying height at a meet in Bishan Stadium last month, before smashing the national record with a 3.91m leap at the Thailand Open earlier this month.

"Normally, if you meet the qualifying mark you should be in," she said. "I just hope to better the medal count at the Games."

The 35-year-old mother of a four-year-old son won a silver after a 3.90m effort at the last edition hosted on home soil in 2015 - which was the Republic's first SEA Games medal in women's pole vault.

Besides Yang, other athletes who made the list include the men's and women's 4x100m sprint teams, the women's squash team, judoka Benjamin Fong and muay thai exponent Lee De Jun.

In April, the SNOC released a list of 840 athletes from 34 sports that had been approved to compete in the Kuala Lumpur Games, although that number is expected to be whittled down when athletes have to be entered by name for their events.

Among the athletes selected were SEA Games debutants from sports like cricket, ice hockey and ice skating.

Athletes who had yet to meet the qualifying mark - set at the bronze-medal finish of the last Games - had until mid-June to meet the criteria.

For the first time since the 2011 Games in Indonesia, Singapore will be sending karatekas, with Daryl Thong, Shermen Quah and Lydia Chee earning the nod.

The sport had been left out of the 2015 SEA Games on home soil, and SNOC vice-president Tan Eng Liang had criticised the in-fighting amid the fraternity then.

Yesterday, a delighted Singapore Karate-Do Federation president David Thong said: "We are elated that our appeal is successful and we are thankful to the SNOC and Sport Singapore for letting our athletes show that they can deliver.

"Their selection is also proof that our athlete-centric policies are bearing fruit. For example, we conduct open selections that are transparent, regardless of which clubs the athletes represent. This will be the future way for us and we will tighten our processes even more."

Despite the latest athlete additions, three sports - sepak takraw, volleyball and weightlifting - will not be contested by Singapore sportsmen.

The setback was a blow for Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation (Perses) secretary general Borhan Saini, who lamented: "This news will be devastating for the sepak takraw players who have been training very hard for the past 18 months for the SEA Games and also the 2018 Asian Games."

In the 2015 SEA Games, the Singapore team chalked up a silver and seven bronzes in their campaign.

But Perses is not giving up and hopes the SNOC will relent.

Borhan said: "Perses will now focus in preparing the team to qualify for the Indonesia Asian Games which is scheduled to take place in August 2018.

"We are also considering sending another appeal to SNOC for them to reconsider on their earlier decisions. We shall discuss this internally within Perses before end of this week. We hope our appeal will be considered favourably."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Yang among 37 who make KL games cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe