Two long-serving coaches of the national women's artistic gymnastics team have been abruptly dismissed by Singapore Gymnastics (SG), the sport's national governing body.
Coaches Yuan Kexia and Zhao Qun, both originally from China, were served letters late on Friday night, informing them that their services had been terminated with immediate effect.
While they were given two months' pay in lieu of notice, Yuan and Zhao expressed shock at the way in which they were dismissed and remain unclear of the reasons behind their sacking.
Said Yuan, who has been part of the national coaching set-up for close to a decade and is now a Singapore citizen: "We're still not very sure why this has happened, but we have requested a meeting with the association's president and vice-president.
"I understand that if a partnership is not working, there's not much point in continuing, but I just don't know why it was done this way."
Added Zhao, who has coached the team for almost 13 years and is now a Singapore PR: "If we can't continue working together, then so be it. But at the very least, give us an explanation so that we understand, rather than just a letter and be done with it."
Both Yuan and Zhao have been instrumental in the rise and growth of Singapore's women's artistic gymnastics team.
Under their tutelage, the Republic won three consecutive team titles at the SEA Games (2005, 2007 and 2011). The sport was not contested at the 2009 or 2013 editions.
Singapore also won a clutch of individual titles at the biennial Games, including an unprecedented double win in the prestigious women's all-around gold (Tabitha and Nicole Tay) event at the 2007 SEA Games.
Lim Heem Wei, the country's most successful gymnast, also became the first Singaporean to earn qualification to the Olympic Games in 2012 under the duo.
When contacted, SG president Goh Hwee Cheng said it was a decision the management had deliberated over for some time, citing the spate of injuries in the team as one of the factors behind the move.
Nicolette Lim was injured and missed both July's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and September's Asian Games in Incheon, while Ashly Lau's right knee gave way at the Commonwealth Games.
With next year's SEA Games on home soil less than eight months away, Goh added that it is of paramount importance that all problems are ironed out in order to put up a good show.
"The coaches did not meet the key performance indicator of reducing injuries, and with the SEA Games next year in mind, we felt we needed to do something about it before it's too late.
"It's not an easy decision, but it's one we have to make and hopefully there are no hard feelings."
She added that the association has already begun identifying new coaches to replace Yuan and Zhao.
Gymnast Lim, who has been trained by the duo since she was 12, said the team is still reeling from the shocking news.
Said the 25-year-old veteran: "We're all still in a state of shock. It's such a drastic change taking place so close to a major Games. It's bound to throw us off."
This article was first published on Nov 03, 2014.
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