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Old 30th June 2011, 07:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Athletics: Wong cracks SEA Games qualifying mark

Athletics: Wong cracks SEA Games qualifying mark

By Tan Yo-Hinn, TODAY
Posted: 30 June 2011 0655 hrs


SINGAPORE: Hungry and fatigued, national discus thrower James Wong downed two half-boiled eggs, washed down with an iced tea.


James Wong (Photo by Tan Yo Hinn - TODAY)

It worked a treat, as 45 minutes later, at a specially-arranged trial at Nanyang Polytechnic, the discus thrower pulled off a distance of 52.15m to meet the 'A' qualifying mark of 52.05m for this year's SEA Games.

It kept alive the 42-year-old's hopes of a ninth discus gold, and 10th overall - Wong also owns a hammer gold from the 1997 Games - at this year's SEA Games, which is scheduled in Jakarta and Palembang from November 11 to 22.

Wong's result coincided with the one-year mark of Tang Weng Fei's second reign as president of the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA). Tang was also president of the association for one term from 2004-06.

The SAA's annual general meeting was held on Wednesday night at the Singapore Sports School, and Tang gave his management committee a high mark for their performance after their first year in office.

"Because of all the problems the SAA used to have, I'd grade the team an 'A', because like Loh Lin Kok (his predecessor) said, it was a mammoth task ahead of us, and we managed to overcome all that," said Tang, after the two-hour meeting.

"When he (Loh) said that, we wanted to prove to the previous management ... (although) he was trying to encourage us to move forward."

Describing the handover process from the previous team last year as "lackadaisical", Tang told some 50-odd member affiliates that his team had managed to, among others, complete an internal audit as required by the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) and submit their multi-year sports plan for 2010 to 2014.

That allowed the SSC to remit around S$495,000 in February to the SAA, who also received approximately S$900,000 from the SSC for the current fiscal year.

Overall, their cash reserves at the end of the last fiscal year was about S$765,000 - a jump of some S$80,000. The national sports association also secured a S$100,000 sponsorship from Sun Investment Pte Ltd for the inaugural Singapore under-23 Athletics Open, which was held over the weekend.

The SAA need S$1.3 million annually to operate and Tang, an oil trader, believes they are financially sound for the next three years.

Singapore track and field also enjoyed a recent run of encouraging results, including a best-ever performance from the youngsters at the 6th Southeast Asia Junior Athletics Championship in Jakarta earlier this month, where they won four gold, three silver and five bronze medals.

Eight athletes, including national under-18 400m record holder Ng Chin Hui, 17, have qualified for next month's World Youth Championship in Lille, France.

"It all augurs well for athletics in Singapore. They are rough diamonds who need to be polished," said Tang.

For this year's SEA Games, the SSC have set the SAA a target of six medals. Tang has set his own target of at least three golds - likely to come from Zhang Guirong (women's discus), Mok Ying Ren (marathon) and Wong.

Wong, the defending champion when he threw a distance of 53.60m at the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, can now work towards a gold, after finally achieving success on his fifth attempt on Wednesday. He let out a bloodcurdling scream when he was told he had hit a distance 52.15m.

Said Wong: "Qualifying is the most important. Now that I've qualified, I need to work smart and train hard to hopefully push up to 53m or 54m, I think that should do the job."

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...138044/1/.html

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