S’pore Athletics president Ho disagrees with 4x100m centralised training plan

S’pore Athletics president Ho disagrees with 4x100m centralised training plan
Singapore Athletics president Ho Mun Cheong says it does not make sense to excluse Shanti Pereira from the 4x100m relay squad as she is Singapore's best female sprinter. Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY
He also says it would not make sense to exclude national sprinter Shanti Pereira from 4x100m relay squad
Published: 10:55 PM, June 16, 2017
Updated: 11:12 PM, June 16, 2017

SINGAPORE – The saga surrounding national sprinter Shanti Pereira’s involvement in July’s centralised training camp in Taiwan has taken a twist, with Singapore Athletics (SA) president Ho Mun Cheong revealing that he disagrees with the association’s Technical Director Volker Hermann’s choice of location for the camp.

TODAY reported on Thursday (June 15) that a dispute between Pereira’s coach Margaret Oh and Hermann over the sprinter’s participation in the pre-SEA Games training camp could see the reigning 200m champion being dropped from the women’s 4x100m relay team.

With Pereira set to head to India for the Asian Athletics Championships next month, Oh does not want her charge to attend the camp for fear of tiring the athlete out.

Oh had also expressed concerns with the climate in Taiwan, which she says is different from that of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the SEA Games will be held, as well as the timing of the camp.

And it appears that Ho also shares Oh’s reservations.

Speaking to TODAY, Ho said that the location of the centralised training camp had yet to be confirmed, as the 26 members of SA’s management committee (MC) have yet to vote on the appropriate venue.

However, the 68-year-old said that he too does not think Taiwan is the right location to hold the training camp.

“As the SEA Games is in Malaysia, I think it’s better to have the camp somewhere in the region,” he said.

“Firstly, it is the monsoon season in Taiwan now, which means their climate and weather will be different to that of Malaysia’s.

“The second reason is food. We have to ensure that our athletes get the right nutrition, but this would be difficult to do if the camp is in Taiwan.

“In addition, Taiwan’s food might not be the most suitable for athletes who have different dietary requirements due to religion.

“Thirdly, the country is hosting the World University Games this year and so their athletics association won’t have time to take care of our team.

“They also won’t allow our team to train with their athletes, and sourcing for proper lodging and training venues will also be tough.”

Ho suggested that the training camp could be held in Singapore instead.

“We have all the facilities here, it’s easier for us to arrange for the hostel, training venues and the catering,” he said.

“Climate-wise, Singapore is similar to Malaysia.”

Ho said it was Hermann’s idea to hold the training camp in Taiwan, and that the MC were previously not consulted on the matter.

While Ho reiterated that the location of the training camp would ultimately be decided by the MC and not him alone, he said that it does not make sense for Pereira to be excluded from the 4x100m relay team.

“She is our fastest (women’s) sprinter in the country, so how can you not let her be part of the relay team?” questioned Ho.

“If she doesn’t take part, it’s very unlikely that Singapore can get a medal in the event.

“So I’m surprised that our technical director issued such an ultimatum to her. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this until I read TODAY’s report.

“I am saddened by this whole episode, but I believe it will be resolved. After all, we cannot base things simply on an individual’s decision… the country comes first, and we need to make sure we give ourselves the best chance of winning a medal.”

Oh said she was pleased to know that she had received Ho’s support in this matter.

She also revealed that Shanti and her father would meet with Hermann on Monday (June 19) to discuss the issue.

“I’m very happy that there are people who are supporting us in this matter,” said Oh.

“Shanti has been very stressed out by this whole issue…she’s been crying and it has affected her performances.

“It’s frustrating for her because she really wants to run the relay, but she also recognises that acclimatisation for the competition is important, and as such, Taiwan might not be the best place to train in.

“Shanti and her father will meet with Hermann on Monday to discuss this issue further.

“We will have to wait and see how the talk goes, but as for me, I still see no point in her going.”