Coaches at the helm: Part 3
Singapore has spared no effort to bring in the very best to guide its athletes to glory at this South-east Asia Games.
The New Paper speaks to some of the world-class coaches in our midst.
Report by Redzwan Kamarudin and David Lee
National men’s table tennis coach
In China, he had achieved all that he could as a table tennis coach, after grooming Olympic and world champions such as Yan Sen and Chen Qi.
It is why Yang Chuanning relished an overseas challenge.
He said: “I wanted a new challenge, and I’ve heard so many good things about Singapore and so I came over here in 2010.
“In China, our opportunities are limited to coaching within the country. Here in Singapore, we have more international exposure.
“So far, I’m happy with my work here and I have no regrets coming here. I think I have delivered and I’m grateful to the Singapore Table Tennis Association who has been very supportive of my work.”
At the SEA Games, Yang wants to further cement Singapore’s status as a table tennis powerhouse.
The 56-year-old said: “My immediate target is to help Team Singapore deliver all the golds in our men’s table tennis events at the SEA Games.
“We are trying to prepare our team for every unforeseen circumstance and try to make as few mistakes as possible as we go for gold.”
Ralph Eckert pictured with Paul Pang PHOTO: ST FILE
National men’s pool coach
He became head coach for the national pool team only in January this year, but Ralph Eckert is confident that he can help end Singapore’s 10-year gold drought in the SEA Games.
The 50-year-old German believes that local rising star Aloysius Yapp, who won the nine-ball pool at the Under-19 World Junior Championships in Shanghai last November, could be the key to ending that barren spell.
The 2004 trick-shot world champion said: “With an extremely focused, hardworking and talented player like Aloysius in the team, the target has to be a gold medal.
“Why should I aim for anything less as a coach? My job is to get Aloysius and the rest of the team to the gold medal, and that’s what we’ll do.”
He also said that the chance to travel and see a new country was a big draw for him to come to Singapore.
Previously, he has coached in countries such as Denmark, Switzerland, Thailand and Morocco.
Maryna Tsimashenka behind synchronised swimmer Gayle Lee at a send off for the 2010 Commonwealth Games with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean PHOTO: ST FILE
National synchronised swimming coach,
She arrived in Singapore in 2009, and shares the same birthday as the Republic – Aug 9.
And Maryna Tsimashenka, head coach of Singapore’s synchronised swimming team, has already prepared her birthday gift for the Republic this year — a SEA Games gold at the event on Wednesday (June 3).
In the process, Singapore defeated regional powerhouses Malaysia in the Team Free Combination and Team Technical and Free Routine events.
To be sure, it wasn’t easy. The gold was a culmination of tonnes of effort and hard work.
Before the Games, the 48-year-old Belarussian said: “We have very talented and beautiful girls with so much potential. They’re young and obviously have a tendency to take things too easy, and for us to beat Malaysia, we need to practise more and gain more experience.”
The last time synchronised swimming was held at the SEA Games was in Indonesia 2011, with Malaysia sweeping all five gold medals in the duet and team categories. Singapore won three silvers and one bronze that year.
After leading the Belarus team to the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 Fina Synchronised Swimming World Trophy, Tsimashenka was offered the Singapore coaching position by Philip Lee, the vice-president of synchronised swimming at the Singapore Swimming Association.
She said: “He asked if I wanted to coach in Singapore, and I had to think about it. I actually wanted to have a rest for myself because, at that point, I was coaching for over 10 years. But I am disciplined and couldn’t find myself to rest so easily. With the support of my husband, I decided to accept the offer and took it as a challenge for myself.”