One of Singapore's largest national sports associations will form its first Athletes' Commission by the end of this month, in what could be a landmark move for local sports.
The Singapore Swimming Association's (SSA) executive committee, who was voted into power at the swim body's annual general meeting in June this year, gave the go-ahead for an Athletes' Commission to be formed during a meeting last month.
The move follows national swimmer Russell Ong's call for athletes to be given voting rights at the SSA's election, as he felt athletes should have a say in choosing the people whose policies would affect them.
Singapore National Olympic Council secretary-general Chris Chan also chimed in then, proposing an athletes' commission as an alternative.
And after months of discussion with SSA president Lee Kok Choy and vice-president (swimming) Joscelin Yeo, Ong said he was pleased all the hard work is bearing fruit.
He will serve as the commission's chairman until 2016. Swimmer Quah Ting Wen is vice-chairman, while national athletes Mark Lee (diving), Lee Kai Yang, Tan Su-Lynn (both water polo), and Stephanie Chen (synchronised swimming) make up the rest of the body.
The 25-year-old said: "This is definitely a step forward. The SSA has been very helpful, and were very receptive.
"It got quite hectic at times, juggling school, training, and coordinating with the athletes from four disciplines. But it's something I'm passionate about, and it's good that we finally have a voice in matters."
Members of the Athletes' Commission are co-opted into the executive committee, and can attend its meetings to give their feedback on matters such as selection policies and training syllabus.
Ex-national swimmer Yeo said: "It's a good thing for athletes to have a voice in matters pertaining to them, and to give us feedback from the ground. It has to be driven by the athletes, but the SSA will support them."
While the Athletes' Commission is not yet up and running, Yeo - a 40-time SEA Games gold medallist - revealed that the SSA's executive committee has been working closely with members of the swimming fraternity since coming into office.
One area is selection policies for major meets. Yeo said she spoke with local swimmers and coaches before coming up with the selection policy for next June's Singapore SEA Games.
The new selection policy moved away from the single-meet policy used for last year's Games.
Singapore-based swimmers now have a six-month window, covering three meets, to clock the qualifying times.
It is the same for overseas-based swimmers, who can now nominate up to three Fina- sanctioned meets to qualify.
Breaststroke specialist Samantha Yeo, a freshman at the University of Michigan in the United States, said: "The qualifying window definitely gives us more flexibility, seeing that the US collegiate swim schedule tends to be quite different from Singapore's."
This article was first published on Nov 8, 2014.
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