A coach's dilemma

His goal is to guide a Singapore pole vaulter at the Olympic Games.

In Sean Lim and Chan Sheng Yao, David Yeo believes he has two athletes who have the potential to represent the country at the Olympics.

But the 40-year-old coach's dream may have to be sacrificed due to the harsh realities of life.

The former gymnast is at a crossroads because of his financial situation and is contemplating giving up coaching.

"It is financially very challenging now... I am nearing the end of my savings," said Yeo, whose coaching gig with Hwa Chong Institution does not fully cover his monthly expenses.

He has had three jobs in the past three years and they all have been on a part-time basis for him to be able to continue coaching.

He resisted all three employers who wanted him to give up coaching and focus on administration.

Yeo left his last job at the start of the year and has been surviving on the money from coaching at Hwa Chong.

He is married to national women's pole vault champion Rachel Yang, whom he also coaches.

The couple have a one-year-old son and Yeo is at a stage when he has to consider full-time employment, what with mortgage payments, car loans and debts from his undergraduate days still to be settled.

Yang, who is the general manager at Special Olympics Singapore, handles some of the financial burden, but she is also pursuing a masters in business administration while chasing her own sporting dream.

While some track and field coaches ply their trade at more than one school to make ends meet, Yeo prefers to have a part-time day job instead.

He said: "It is possible to coach one boys' school, one girls' school, a tertiary institution and even a primary school, but I wouldn't be focused.



"Some people say a coach is only working when he's down at the field, but what they don't see are the hours he puts in after the action to analyse his charges and in planning."

"If I am doing an administrative job, I would be able to do those in my head at times," added Yeo, whose previous three jobs were all in sports administration.

He is crossing his fingers that something will come through soon - he was recently interviewed for an opening with a local sports body, where he hopes to continue working part-time and coach.

While most of his peers have more glamorous jobs with much higher pay, Yeo takes heart in grooming the likes of Sean, 20, and Sheng Yao, 18.

Sean's national mark stands at 5.01m and Sheng Yao's personal best is 4.91m, while the Olympic qualifying mark for the 2016 Rio Games is 5.55m.

Yeo said: "If all goes well, Sean should be able to make it to the 2016 Olympic Games."

This article was published on April 26 in The New Paper.

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