Athletics: Beware the Thais and Vietnamese

Athletics: Beware the Thais and Vietnamese
Incumbent Singapore Athletic Association president Tang Weng Fei embraces his challenger Sng Sze Hiang (left) at the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) annual general meeting held at Hotel Royal on 23 June 2014. Tang successfully saw off Sng’s challenge by 13 votes to eight.

The Republic's athletes finished the two-day Singapore Open Track and Field Championships yesterday at the National Stadium with three gold, six silver and 15 bronze medals, along with three new national marks.

They finished sixth in the overall team standings, with Indonesia taking top honours with nine golds, five silvers and five bronzes.

Philippines were second (6-5-4) while Taiwan came in third (5-4-0).

While he was happy enough with the performance, Singapore Athletics (SA) president Tang Weng Fei knows the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games, which will be held here from June 5 to 16, will be a different ball game.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meet yesterday, Tang (above) said: "We've got to be very careful (about being too optimistic); the Indonesians and the Philippines sent strong squads here, but the Thais and the Vietnamese have been hiding their trump cards so far."

Singapore's athletes had already trained on three occasions at the new 55,000-seater venue before the Singapore Open, and SA general manager Yazeen Buhari said the national sports association has been working with the Singapore Sports Hub to allow more sessions ahead of the SEA Games, although specific dates have yet to be set.

"We have an understanding whereby our athletes will be allowed to train on the track on days when the SEA Games organisers are not using the track for their rehearsals (for the opening ceremony)," said Yazeen.

The athletes will have a final tune-up before the home Games at the Taiwan Open next month in Taipei, where Tang expects the level of competition to be high.


He said: "The Taiwanese have been generally good, and I heard that the Thais will send a strong contingent there, so it will be a good, high-level competition for our athletes."

Tang was pleased with the overall organisation of the first athletics meet at the National Stadium, despite teething issues on the first day.

He said: "There were issues with the start-line system, as well as too many non-essential personnel walking on the track on the first day, but today it is much better - a technical delegate even told me that it is much more like a international meet today."

He added the NSA will continue training its technical officials and volunteers, and test its equipment outside the National Stadium for the SEA Games.

Tang said: "The stadium is wonderful, and today is one of the rare times that we had such a good turnout in this competition.

"Hopefully more people will come and support the athletes at the SEA Games."

This article was first published on April 6, 2015.
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