SportSG chief Lim: Engage athletes before setting policies
SportSG chief Lim says Olympic wildcard spat between Mok and Soh offers valuable lessons for NSAs
Marathoners Mok Ying Ren and Soh Rui Yong are embroiled in a very public spat as Singapore Athletics (SA) mulls over which male athlete to send to the Rio Olympics on a wildcard slot.
Both athletes' social media platforms have been abuzz with varying views on SA's decision-making process over the last week, with contrasting opinions offered by Mok and Soh.
A race-off has been mooted as things look to come to a head today, when SA makes its decision.
But Sport Singapore chief Lim Teck Yin called for a reflective attitude, urging instead to focus on the lessons on offer from this episode for the country's national sports associations (NSAs).
"It is an unfortunate situation that has room for a lot of controversy, and associations can learn from this episode to put a lot of thought into their (selection) criteria... Be clear what are the sort of results and outcomes that you (want)," he said, on the sidelines of the launch of the ActiveSG Tennis Academy yesterday.
"I think in this day and age, it is useful to engage the athletes beforehand.
"So that you get their views early, before you set your policies. But these are lessons that every association can learn, and we are learning.
"It is useful for (SA) to reflect on this lesson and don't repeat the same kind of episode again."
Two spots - one male, one female - are given to countries that have no representatives who qualify for the Olympics (from Aug 5-21) on merit.
Female marathoner Neo Jie Shi has made the cut for the Brazil, leaving only the men's spot to be decided.
Following guidelines set by SA, Edmund Sim (20km race-walking national record holder), Ang Chen Xiang (110m hurdles record holder), Zubin Muncherji (400m record holder), Timothee Yap (100m sprinter) and Soh (10,000m record holder) are in the mix.
Lim believes athletes have to reflect on their behaviour as well.
"Rui Yong is a good runner and he can say how well he’s doing all he wants, but when you put others down to make yourself look better, it’s not very nice."
— Mok Ying Ren on Soh Rui Yong
"I simply said that breaking national records alone doesn’t mean you are the best choice for the wildcard... You are picking and choosing your facts and twisting them against me."
— Soh Rui Yong on Mok Ying Ren
"If (Mok and Soh) were not getting along, and it was not in social media, people would still know," he said.
"I think the bigger message is mutual respect, and a sense of professional decorum.
"It is something that every Team Singapore athlete should embrace.
"I would ask the athletes to take a step back, reflect on what they have been reading, and whether or not they should be saying more (on any given issue)."