Athletics: Game on for pole vaulter Rachel Yang's coach for Philippines SEA Games
19th September 2019

SINGAPORE – SEA Games-bound pole vaulter Rachel Yang will be travelling to the Philippines with her coach David Yeo after all, with the latter deciding to make the trip to Clark despite turning down the Singapore National Olympic Council’s (SNOC) offer to pay for his flights and accommodation.

Instead, he has accepted only SNOC’s offer for accreditation and will pay his own way to be in Yang’s corner.

The Straits Times had reported on Sunday that Yang, the national women’s pole vault record holder who won a silver and bronze at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games respectively, was unhappy that Singapore Athletics (SA) had omitted Yeo from their list of eight officials selected for the biennial meet.

The following day, SNOC made its offer to SA for Yeo to travel with the pole vaulter. Yang, 37, is one of seven track and field athletes – out of 26 heading to the SEA Games – who qualified by achieving at least the third-placing mark of the 2017 edition.

Yeo told The Straits Times: “I would like to sincerely thank SNOC and its secretary-general Chris Chan for their kind gesture, which is on top of the quota (of eight officials) allocated to SA.

“It is evident that with his years of experience working with various sports, he can empathise with the pole vaulter’s needs for the presence of the coach due to its technicality and especially safety.”

Yeo added that he did not feel “it is right” to accept SNOC’s offer to cover the cost of his flights and accomodation, pointing out that “SA had no intention of including me in their initial list and also did not make a request to SNOC later on”.

Yeo had been her coach at six previous major Games, but SA did not include him for this year’s SEA Games.

In an e-mail response to Yang on Sept 4, SA executive director Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied wrote that the national sports association was “unable to justify sending an accompanying coach for just one representative”, while understanding the “technical” nature of pole vault.

He later extended an SA offer to pay for Yeo’s flights and accommodation using Yang’s Tier 1 funding – up to $4,000 allocated by SA to athletes who meet the SEA Games qualifying mark – which the duo rejected as they have already made plans to use the money for other training purposes until March 2020.

Malik said: “We have 26 athletes to manage at the SEA Games and were given eight slots for officials. We made our selection in good faith. Later on, we offered to use Rachel’s Tier 1 funding to pay for David and arrange for his accreditation but they refused.

“SA is grateful for SNOC’s support. What is most important now is that David can be there to support Rachel in order for her to optimise her performance. I hope we can all move on at focus on the SEA Games preparation.”

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