Coach Lim, SSA disagree over appeal for two swimmers

Despite having all their 11 nominations making the cut at the SEA Games appeal meeting over a week ago, not all in the local swimming community is celebrating yet. Coach David Lim and Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) president Jeffrey Leow are at odds over the fate of two young swimmers - Tan Jing-E and Quah Jing Wen.

Lim feels that his Swimfast Aquatic Club (SAC) proteges, aged 12 and 13 respectively, should have been included in the SSA's appeal list to the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) SEA Games appeal committee.

He said: "The SSA must have the foresight to know that these two girls are the future of Singapore's women swimming. "They will be crucial to Singapore's performance at future Games. We don't want them to enter the 2015 edition - when Singapore plays hosts - without having any experience at that level."

Technically, if all the relevant stakeholders agree, the girls still stand a chance to be in Naypyidaw, as the accreditation deadline is Sept15. Lim argued that there are no representatives for the two 400m individual medley slots which he is trying to register the girls for. Including them would therefore not affect other swimmers' participation.

The duo are turning heads with their recent performances. Jing-E won seven golds at June's South-east Asian (SEA) Age-Group Swimming Championships.

Jing Wen, the younger sibling of SEA Games gold-medallists Ting Wen and Zheng Wen was named the Most Valuable Player at the Singapore National Age Group Championships in March. Said Lim: "All I am asking is for the endorsement of SSA.

"Let SNOC have the final say. It will make a huge difference to the girls' careers to know that the SSA is behind them in their development years."

The SNOC has been known to allow more leeway to national sports associations who have been proven goldmines at the Games, such as swimming.

However, Leow feels there is no sufficient grounds to reopen the appeals for the duo.

He explained that the girls' 400 IM times of 5min 5.87sec (Jing Wen) and 5:05.99 (Jing-E) were 2.6 per cent away from the qualifying mark of 4:58.11. The benchmark that the SSA has traditionally used for submission of appeals is 1 per cent, said Leow.

Out of its 11 appeal cases, 1,500m freestyle specialist Teo Zhen Ren was the furthest away, with his 16:15.28 being 1.46 per cent from the 16:01.26 qualifying mark. But Leow said that Teo, who enlisted for NS in February, was given special consideration because he is the defending champion.

The president acknowledged Lim's point about the girls' potential but added that age was not a consideration in the decision-making process. He said: "Our committee for the senior events has never used age as justification. Whether young or old, it's all performance-based."

ugenec@sph.com.sg

 

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.