Top youth paddler hurt after punishment

Jing Yuan pulled an arm muscle after he was allegedly made to do 100 push-ups by one of his YOG coaches, hours before he was to play in the National Inter-School Table Tennis tournament. He lost 3-1 in the final.

SINGAPORE - He should have been one happy boy, having just qualified for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) table tennis competition.

Instead, 17-year-old Yin Jing Yuan cuts a desolate figure, nursing a pulled arm muscle and unable to play the sport he loves for the past week.

The injury has sparked a row between his parents and one of his YOG coaches.

The New Paper understands that his parents are unhappy over how their son was treated and has made an official complaint to the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) and Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

When contacted, Jing Yuan and his mother declined to comment, citing a confidentiality clause in his contract after joining the YOG training squad.

TNP understands from a source that their unhappiness stems from a disciplinary punishment meted out by the coach which might have contributed to his injury.

Jing Yuan was allegedly made to do 100 push-ups after training last Thursday morning, hours before he was due to play in the National Inter-School Table Tennis Individual Championships.

That afternoon, Jing Yuan, who at 30th in the Under-18 world rankings is Singapore's top male youth paddler, lost 3-1 to 15-year-old Poh Shao Feng from the Singapore Sports School in the final.

Jing Yuan's injury also caused him to miss the South-east Asia Junior competition selection trials on Saturday. The source told TNP that his parents are "seeking legal advice to know their rights".

"You can draw your own conclusions, but the coach who punished Jing Yuan is also coach of the winner from the Sports School," the source said.

"It's just too coincidental and sensitive. It's not that qualifying for the YOG means you are a big star who can behave differently and not be punished. But the coach must be fair."

TNP understands Jing Yuan was punished because the coach felt that he had gone against his advice by using too much strength in his backhand strokes.

The source said Jing Yuan applied for 1.5 years' leave of absence from Raffles Institution to pursue his YOG dream, which became a reality when he won a semi-final at the Asia Continental Qualification event in Bangkok.

"Jing Yuan's father was initially not for his son pursuing sports. But his mother supports his dreams and managed to convince her husband to relent," the source said.

"So you can imagine how stressed she feels now because of all that has happened. She is wondering if she had made the right decision."

When told of the alleged incident, a local swimming coach said on condition of anonymity: "I'm not saying that bad behaviour should be condoned, but if there was a big match coming up, perhaps the punishment could have been meted out after the match or the following day.

"After all, the students have just one chance each year to qualify for the school finals."

The STTA would only confirm it has "received a letter of complaint from the mother of YOG athlete Yin Jing Yuan and we take the complaint seriously".

Sport Singapore and the SNOC told TNP that they are aware of the matter and are jointly seeking clarification from the STTA.

This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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