Athletics: Vassiliev in a fix

Athletics: Vassiliev in a fix

He has nurtured national sprinters and hurdlers such as Dipna Lim-Prasad, T Piriyah and Wendy Enn, and also coached Poh Seng Song.

Viatchelsav Vassiliev may have to leave Singapore soon though, as his coaching contract with the Singapore Sports School has not been renewed.

Affectionately known as Slava, the Georgian, who has been here since 2007, was told about his contract situation via a letter by the school about three months ago, and ended his stint with the school on Wednesday.

He told The New Paper: "I was surprised (that my contract was not renewed)... I have been looking for other jobs here and also applied for the SAA (Singapore Athletic Association) head coach position, but I don't have any plans here yet."

"I want to continue to stay here, but I am not a PR (permanent resident) here. If I can't find anything, I'd have to leave at the end of the month," said Vassiliev, whose wife and 13-year-old son are also based here.

Under the former Georgia national coach, Lim-Prasad, 23, set national records in the women's 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles in recent years, and clinched the bronze medal in the latter at the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar.

Lim-Prasad's 100m hurdles mark of 14.29 seconds, set in 2011, was broken last year by Jannah Wong, who clocked 14.14 at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Taiwan.

"He has been more than a coach for me, he's also been a friend," said 2012 Olympian Lim-Prasad.

"If you speak to athletes about good coaches, they would usually mention dedication as a trait, Slava has that too.

"There was one semester when I was still in school where I couldn't make one of the weekday trainings and he offered to train me on Sundays, his only day-off of the week.

"When I won the bronze medal at the 2013 SEA Games, he was the first person I turned to in the stands."


SAA president Tang Weng Fei confirmed that Vassiliev had applied for the head coach position, which went to Portuguese Luis Cunha.

Tang said: "We were looking to lay the foundation for the long term and he wasn't what we were looking for, so he didn't make the final shortlist, which included two Americans.

"And, unfortunately, we do not have any other openings at SAA for him at the moment."

With the SEA Games here just six months away, Lim-Prasad has been training with Cunha since Dec 24.

She has also fully recovered from a quadriceps injury, which forced her to skip the Commonwealth Games in Scotland last July.

"It's been so far so good, I guess. Cunha tries not to change too much of what I've been doing because we are so close to the SEA Games," said Lim-Prasad, who is into her off-season strength and endurance building phase.

"But he's introducing things to improve my running technique and strength; he was a university professor back in Portugal, so he likes to make you think and understand what you do, which I like."

Along with other SEA Games hopefuls, Lim-Prasad will have to meet the qualifying marks - defined as the bronze medal standards of the previous Games - by April.

She said: "I haven't been hurdling, just building up my speed endurance. I need to have a strong foundation before I start doing anything else.

"But running well at the SEA Games this year is something I have been working towards since the last Games."

This article was first published on Jan 2, 2015.
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