Swimming: Phua eyeing top SSA post

Jessie Phua is Singapore's chef-de-mission for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The bowling lanes have been a big part of Jessie Phua's life.

She was an executive director of the now-defunct Victor's Superbowl and has been the president of the Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) since 2002.

The former nominated Member of Parliament may be about to step into another "lane" in sports administration.

The New Paper understands that the 58-year-old is considering running for the presidency of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) during its annual general meeting in June.

On vacation in the United States, Phua could not be reached for comment yesterday, but well-placed sources confirmed the news.

"The (swimming) clubs have not been happy with the way the SSA has been running things for the past few years," one source told TNP.

"The clubs have been the ones producing the national athletes, but feel that they don't get enough support from the association."

Phua has been credited with turning around bowling's national sports association (NSA).

Known as the Singapore Tenpin Bowling Congress in 2002, it became embroiled in a crisis due to financial irregularities, forcing the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) to withdraw funding.

Today, under Phua's stewardship, the NSA, renamed the SBF, is in the black.

On the lanes, Singapore bowlers have also hit the heights, collecting a gold each at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games.

In 2006, Remy Ong won the singles and All Events at the men's world championships, while Jasmine Yeong-Nathan (2008) and Shayna Ng (2012) both won AMF World Cup crowns.

While she was not a national swimmer like current SSA president Jeffrey Leow, Phua has a good understanding of the local swimming scene as her daughters Shu Yan and Nikki used to swim competitively.

The SSA presidency will be vacant in June as the incumbent Leow will step down after eight years in charge.

While the SSC rescinded its previous limit of eight years for office bearers in NSAs in 2012, Leow confirmed yesterday that the SSA has not amended its constitution to remove the limit, and thus will step down this year.

TOO EARLY

He said: "This is my final term, but it's too early for me to think about whether I will (stand for election in another capacity) or not.

"There's too much stuff to focus on right now, like the South-east Asia Swimming Championships in June."

It remains to be seen if Phua will throw her hat into the ring, and if more candidates will step forward for the top swimming post.

If Phua does stand and wins, she will also have to decide if she wants to relinquish her SBF presidency.

While administrators have led two sports simultaneously - Low Teo Ping headed SingaporeSailing and the Singapore Rugby Union at one time - the SSA and SBF are among the highest-profile NSAs in the country.

Whatever the decision, some in the swimming fraternity want a shake-up.

Said another source: "Whatever it is, a change is needed."


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