Yang puzzled over sack

Yang puzzled over sack
Yang Chuanning (left), with national player Gao Ning after returning from a tournament, feels he is an innocent victim of the internal turmoil in the Singapore Table Tennis Association. However, it is understood that the players have voiced their unhappiness over his professionalism and capability.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Former national table tennis men's team head coach Yang Chuanning has lashed out at the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), following his unceremonious sacking by the national governing body for the sport.

What the 56-year-old took issue with was not being dismissed 1 and a 1/2 years before his four-year contract was up, but the manner in which he was shown the door.

"Things (within the STTA) were already getting quite messy so I was already mentally preparing myself," he told The Straits Times yesterday, referring to the spat involving women's team player Yu Mengyu and coach Jing Junhong.

In a statement the STTA released yesterday, it was also announced the Jing has been "redeployed" as chief coach of youth development. She relinquishes her former post as women's team head coach to Liu Jiayi, formerly her deputy.

Men's team assistant coaches Wang Xiang and Zhu Jiang will helm the men's team while the STTA searches for a replacement for Yang. It did not say if there is a deadline for the hunt, despite the Olympics being less than a year away.

Said Yang, who was informed of his termination in a letter yesterday afternoon: "From the Asian Championships (that ended early last month) until now, no one from the STTA has spoken to me.

"I've been in Singapore for more than five years, I do miss home and want to be with my family, but it just doesn't make sense the way things are being done now."

The Jiangsu native, who was given 12 weeks' remuneration as severance pay, claimed he was not given any reasons by the STTA for his dismissal and was asked to leave Singapore within a week.

In the statement, the STTA said that the decision to sack Yang was made with an eye on the Olympics next August, and to protect the interests of the men's players.

The Straits Times understands that the players had given negative feedback regarding Yang, with complaints questioning both his professionalism and capability.

Among the gripes were perceived views that Yang does not treat the players equally - and looks down in particular on local-born paddlers - and has also failed to adapt training regimes to the new balls and ahead of big tournaments.

Yang, however, feels he has simply been made an innocent victim in the STTA's internal turmoil.

It is believed that some players from the women's team had been keen on being coached by him.

He said: "I've never held back if any of the players ask me for help. But that doesn't necessarily mean that I was eyeing the position.

"It was always going to be the STTA's decision. If the association wanted me to help, I would. If they wanted me to stay with the men's team, I'd do that.

"The results that I've helped produce in my time here is there for all to see."

In the time since his appointment in August 2010, the men's team have achieved two straight top eight finishes at the World Team Table Tennis Championships in 2012 and 2014, and a doubles bronze at both the 2013 Asian Championships and last year's Asian Games.

Key players Gao Ning and Li Hu also won the men's doubles titles at the 2012 and 2013 editions of the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour Grand Finals.

Yang said he will return to Nanjing and the Jiangsu provincial team. "I have always felt that if people can come together amicably to partner each other, they can also end a relationship on good terms," he added.

"There's no need for things to finish on such a sour note."


This article was first published on November 6, 2015.
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