Asian Games: Wake-up call for officials

Asian Games: Wake-up call for officials
MAJULAH: (Left to right) Asian Games CDM Jessie Phua, Minister for Manpower and SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office and MCCY Sam Tan and M Lukshumayeh, CDM for the Asian Para Games, at the Asian Games flag presentation ceremony.

SINGAPORE - Just before the Asian Games flag presentation ceremony yesterday, a team managers' meeting was scheduled with officials from the various National Sports Associations (NSAs) and athletes who will do battle in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept 19-Oct 4.

Only half showed up on time, with the rest trickling in periodically.

Asian Games chef de mission (CDM) Jessie Phua was angry, and duly read the riot act to the latecomers.

Speaking to the media later, after the pledge-taking ceremony at the OCBC Lounge at the Singapore Sports Hub which involved around 300 athletes, Phua revealed she is pushing for a "black book" to record the failings of team officials.

Referring to the last two controversies at major Games, Phua said she has no tolerance for administrative discrepancies.

At July's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Speedo swim caps used by Team Singapore's swimmers were in breach of the rules, causing officials to scramble for new caps at the 11th hour.

At the 2012 London Olympics, swim star Joseph Schooling was told before his 200m butterfly heat that his cap and goggles were not on the list of approved equipment.

Phua is pulling out the stops to ensure there will be no such occurrences on her watch, when she said: "I gave (the latecomers) a shelling.

"I told them, 'you're the people our athletes depend on for support, and I certainly hope this is not a reflection of what you're going to do at the Games'.

Nightmare From Hell

"Let this be a wake-up call. It's important to be mindful of our responsibilities. I told them that I will be the nightmare from hell if they don't do their job."

The 17th Asian Games in Incheon will feature 227 local athletes competing across 20 out of 36 sports.

Singapore's best performance at an Asiad was at the Doha Games in 2006 when the athletes returned home with eight golds, seven silvers and 12 bronzes.

Expectations are high that the contingent can improve on the 2010 showing in Guangzhou (17 medals; 4-7-6).

Phua, who is also president of the Singapore Bowling Federation, has not set a medal target for the Incheon Games, but is optimistic of a good overall showing.

"I'm never one to be drawn into medal predictions; it's like putting a sledgehammer over the athletes and telling them to perform," said the 59-year-old, who was Singapore's CDM at the 2009 South-east Asia Games and 2012 Olympics.

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