The doors of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) boardroom swung open and Lee Kok Choy stepped out with a broad smile.
Little wonder, after his team had made a clean sweep of all eight contested positions at the SSA's annual general meeting at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex last night.
But it all started with a win by the narrowest of margins.
Lee, 62, who served as SSA secretary-general before running for president, pipped Jessie Phua by a single vote - 17 to the 16 garnered by the Singapore Bowling Federation chief.
Of 10 positions in the executive council, eight contested positions went to Lee's team.
Acutely aware that the narrow margin is indication of a division within the fraternity and the number of issues that have to be addressed, Lee, a former national breaststroke champion, is keen to knuckle down.
"We had the right combination of skill sets, passion, and teamwork (but) could only deliver if the whole team were in. (But) that (the elections) was just getting the right to work," said Lee.
"We need to spend time with the affiliates, understand their needs and unify the fraternity as one.
"Our work starts now."
Oon Jin Teik beat Eugene Tan 22 votes to 11, and he already has his game plan mapped out.
"The important thing is I want the fraternity to be united, it should have never been two camps in the first place because the enemy is outside, not within," said the Singapore Sports Hub chief operating officer.
"The first thing I want to do is to have a chat with David Lim... he is an important part of the fraternity, and we want to come together, sit down, have a conversation, and start the (unifying process) from there."
Olympian Lim, a former backstroke star and now an elite coach, has had disagreements with SSA in the past.
The first thing I want to get to is the selection policy (of national swimmers for championships)," said Lee, immediately addressing an issue that has caused much consternation within the fraternity.
"We have to be more transparent. This takes some repairing, but I think we can get there."
Swimming's golden girl Joscelin Yeo - who beat former teammate Mark Chay 18 votes to 14 for the post of vice-president of swimming - is confident that it is a task that can be effectively addressed.
"Selection policy can be very clear because swimming is a time-based sport. To come up with clear policies and clearly communicate them is not tough," she said. "And I want to start with that."
While plans for work have already been set, Lee was quick to start his unifying process before he even left the building last night.
"The first thing I told Jessie was that (despite beating her team at the elections) it's time to work together - (these elections) were about us challenging for the right to serve, not because we hate each other," he said.
Phua was stoic in defeat, and also looked to build unity within the fraternity. "We stepped forward for the love of the sport, and we'll (continue) to do what we can, if we're welcome."
This article was first published on June 14, 2014.
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