Athletics: Overseas interest

SINGAPORE - There are more than a dozen applicants for the national track and field head coach position, but the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) is biding its time to find the right candidate. The deadline for applications was the end of last month, and The New Paper understands at least three Russians, a Belarusian, an Australian and an American are among those vying for the post.

Russian Victor Kuzine, who has previously coached Malaysia's national jumpers, is thought to be on the list.

The applicants are not restricted to men though; it is understood at least one of the names on the list is female.

When contacted yesterday, athletics chief Tang Weng Fei said: "To be honest, I've just received the whole stack of applications and there are quite a few candidates, but I have not looked at them in detail.


"Our (SAA) honorary secretary Samuel Owen, (SAA advisor) C Kunalan and myself will go through them and come up with a shortlist, before we'll start the interviews."

Tang added that the athletics body hoped to name the new head coach by April.

It will give him more than a year before the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games rolls into Singapore next June.

There has been a suggestion that the coach will focus on Singapore's sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers, after the Republic's athletes excelled in the three disciplines in recent times.

Last year, teenage sprinter Shanti Pereira became the first Singapore woman to go under 12 seconds in the 100m dash - the 17-year-old clocked 11.89 at the World Youth Championships in Ukraine last July.

In December's SEA Games in Myanmar, Amirudin Jamal won bronze in the men's 100m, after Gary Yeo claimed silver at the 2011 event.

Hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad, meanwhile, set a new national record in the women's 400m hurdles when she clocked 59.96sec en route to winning a bronze.

The 22-year-old, who also holds the national 100m hurdles record, recently announced she would train full-time for a year after graduating from the Nanyang Technological University in May in her bid to win gold in 2015.

In addition to the head coach, the SAA also hopes to name a new high performance chief within the next two months.

The post has been vacant after the TODAY newspaper reported that former sprinter Loh Chan Pew, 68, had stepped down two weeks ago.

Loh had acted as interim chief since March last year, but his appointment had raised eyebrows as he only holds an IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) Level One coaching certificate.


The highest IAAF coaching qualification is a Level Five certificate, which four Singaporeans - Muhd Hosni, C Veeramani, David Yeo and Tang Ngai Kin - hold.

TNP understands that there are four applicants for the position of high performance chief, with two of them locals.

Tang, who has publicly stated his preference for a local to take up the mantle, suggested the SAA could move to appoint a younger individual.

"We have to be a bit brave here, I think," he said.

"Why not get someone who is younger? Someone who is in his 30s, maybe?

"There's nothing wrong with being young and leading the way.

"In fact, I think it's good to inject some fresh blood into the SAA."