Swimmers want voting rights at SSA elections

Swimmers want voting rights at SSA elections
Russell Ong, captain of the national swim team in the 2013 SEA Games, says he has heard from parents unhappy with SSA policies.

As captain of the Singapore swim team which delivered 30 medals at last year's SEA Games, Russell Ong served as a conduit between athletes and management.

While the curtain has since fallen on the Myanmar Games, Ong has not forgotten his duty to his fellow swimmers.

In an unprecedented move, the 25-year-old has stepped forward to lobby for national aquatic athletes to be given a chance to vote at the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) elections on June 13 for the very first time.

"I feel that we should have a voice in swimming matters, and I have written to Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and the SSA about this," he told The Straits Times yesterday.

"It's only fair because we are directly affected by policies passed down by the management.

"Athletes have been through the system and can offer fresh perspectives from the ground.

"I believe our opinions would matter if we are given voting rights."

At present, voting power resides in ordinary members - swimming clubs with at least 30 paying members - of the SSA.

Said SSA secretary-general Lee Kok Choy: "Russell has raised a point with merit. The current constitution does not allow national athletes to vote but we definitely want to meet with him, chat about it and see if there are alternative solutions to allow athletes to have a vote."

Ong, a freestyle specialist, decided to speak up as several SSA policies had raised the ire of swimmers and their parents.

An example was a regulation at 45th Singapore National Age Group championships in March, which stated that swimmers aged between eight and 10 must take part in the 200m freestyle in order to participate in the 50m or 100m free.

They also had to compete in the 200m individual medley if they want to swim in the 50m or 100m events of other strokes.

Ong, a final-year student at Singapore Management University, said some parents had shared their frustration with him.

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