Sunday, August 31

The S'Pore Table Tennis Olympic Team Fiasco Settled...

MCYS says table tennis saga is over
29 August 2008 2144 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: The controversy surrounding the Singapore Table Tennis Association has been called to a close by the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

In a special media conference on Friday evening, it announced that team manager Antony Lee will continue for another three months, to finish up his Olympics reports. He will then move to the Singapore National Olympic Council in November.

The association will also have two separate head coaches, one each for the women's and men's teams.

President of the Singapore Table Tennis Association, Lee Bee Wah, apologised for causing grievances and stress. With that, the dust has settled over a week-long saga that mired Singapore's silver medal win at the Olympic Games.

Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said the issue was caused by misunderstandings and ties have been mended.

He added that the local sports scene, especially the Singapore Table Tennis Association, has emerged stronger from the incident.

He said the strong public reactions such as those online, showed how sports play an important role in unifying Singaporeans and that the sports scene here has come of age.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "Can I promise there will never be a problem? I can't make such promises. What is more important is the trust and discipline is in place in the team to overcome these problems, get on with the mission, do their best and hopefully their best is good enough to win medals for us."

When asked for their reactions, the table tennis team members stood up in solidarity and said they were all very satisfied with the discussions and decisions.

Other officials also called for Singaporeans' continued support, especially for the association's president Lee Bee Wah.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Teo Ser Luck, said: "For Ms Lee to come in and carry on this work, she will need time. She is only a month-plus old.

"And I believe that she will need the time in order to know what's happening and to gain that knowledge in order to run STTA and bring it to greater heights."

Ng Ser Miang, vice-president, Singapore National Olympic Council, said: "Its time for the athletes to reflect on the values, become true Olympians and go back to our celebrations."

The table tennis team will meet their fans on Saturday at a special autograph session in Ang Mo Kio. - CNA/vm

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