This time, Yeo's really out

This time, Yeo's really out
Swimming team manager Aloysius Yeo is leaving the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) after almost seven years.

At the recent Asian Games in Incheon, swimming team manager Aloysius Yeo went about his administrative duties and role as mentor to the swimmers as he had done so many times before.

But, he dropped a bombshell at a team meeting after the swimmers were all done with their events - he was leaving the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) after almost seven years.

When The New Paper met Yeo yesterday, the SSA high performance manager was working on post-Asiad paperwork with his colleague Huai Xin.

The 37-year-old revealed he had been thinking about leaving since the end of the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar last December because of health and family reasons, but was persuaded to stay on till the Asian Games.

Said the married father of two: "I had a major accident last year when a truck hit my car and I am still recuperating from it. I still require treatment for my ligaments and meniscus. "Also, I want to spend more time with my family."

While there were controversial incidents involving the swim team at this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the recently concluded Asiad - there was a logo issue with swim caps in Scotland and three swimmers broke curfew in Incheon - Yeo insisted they had no impact on his decision to leave.

He said: "I actually wanted to leave after the SEA Games last year, but Joseph (Schooling) persuaded me to stay, saying that he would deliver (a medal) at the Commonwealth Games."

The 19-year-old won Singapore's first swimming medal at a Commonwealth Games when he bagged a silver in the men's 100m butterfly, and followed that feat up with a gold, a silver and a bronze at the Incheon Asiad.

Said Yeo: "Neither the coaches nor the swimmers knew about my decision until I told them. It was an emotional moment for all of us that evening."

Top local coaches David Lim and Gary Tan have paid tribute to Yeo on Facebook after the latter posted his decision to resign on the social networking site.

In a statement, SSA president Lee Kok Choy said: "The SSA thanks Aloysius for his service and wishes him the very best for the future.

"Since taking office, we have been reviewing the total high-performance system for the SEA Games and beyond. Announcements will be made in due course."

BIG ROLE

On top of daily tasks like monitoring and communicating with local and overseas-based swimmers, Yeo played a big role in planning for major Games - such as sourcing for pre-competition acclimatisation camp locations and the associated logistics.

During the Games, Yeo handled the team manager's administrative tasks and also played an unofficial mentoring role - along with the coaches - with the swimmers.

Said Yeo, who leaves the SSA at the end of the month: "I would walk with the swimmers to the call room (before their events)... and then to the mixed zone (where swimmers do their media interviews) and listen to what they say. Sometimes after that I'd advise them on how they could have done it better.

"Sometimes they also confide in me about various things, and sometimes I would be around when they discuss swimming issues with their coaches."

"I am happy that I have earned the trust of both the swimmers and the coaches to be able to do that, since I come from a non-swimming background."

Initially interviewed for a swimming events manager post at SSA, Yeo learnt the ropes on his own while on the job, interacting with team managers of countries like Japan and Australia.

He acknowledge some mistakes, like the swim cap issue at this year's Commonwealth Games, where the initial size of the brand logo on the cap was in breach of the rules.

But although he declined to comment on the curfew issue at the Asian Games.

Yeo, who will take a break and has no career plans, yet, hopes that sports administrators at the various national sports associations will be cross-trained so that the "extra pair of eyes" can help weed out any snafus at major Games.


This article was first published on October 7, 2014.
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