Where's the transparency?

She won a changquan silver medal at the last South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

She was also South-east Asia's top-ranked exponent at last September's Asian Games, where she clinched the bronze.

But Tan Yan Ni, 19, is not considered good enough by the national selectors to represent Singapore at the SEA Games in June.

What rankled most with the second-year student at Republic Polytechnic, was how the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation had dealt with her exclusion. She claimed that they were not transparent in their communication following the final selection on Jan 17.

She was upset that the federation would not explain their decision to her, and it was only after she took the matter all the way up the Singapore National Olympic Council before she had an answer - she was ranked lower than fellow changquan athletes Zoe Mui and Fung Hui Xin in the final assessment.

She told The New Paper: "Competing at the SEA Games in Singapore is my biggest dream. To miss out, after accomplishing so much in the last 18 months, is a big shock."


She added that, not only was the final selection conducted behind closed doors at the national sports association's premises in Serangoon, but the windows of the room were also sealed with newspapers and mattresses, and only five judges and the athletes were allowed in.

In response, Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation's high-performance executive Ng Xinni told TNP that the federation has always practised a closed-door selection policy for major competitions such as the World Championships, SEA Games and Asian Games.

She said: "Having a closed-door selection would allow us to have a best gauge of the athletes' on-ground performance.

"For Wushu Taolu assessment, the judging and scoring are conducted immediately based on the live performance by each athlete on the field, similar to gymnastics.

"Primarily, the reason for having a closed-door selection is to create a condition that is completely fair to all athletes. Although our selections are held behind closed doors, the entire process was recorded using video devices, which will then be used for review and appeal purposes."

Ng added that Tan was dropped from the 15-member wushu squad as the five judges in the final selection "unanimously scored two other athletes ahead of Yan Ni".

Tan, however, remains disappointed at the initial response she got from the federation after she found out that she wasn't in the SEA Games squad on Feb 10.

She said: "When I asked our high performance executive (Ng Xinni), she told me to appeal. There was no answer from my secretary general (Jeffrey Tan), and our president (Liang Eng Hwa) also told me to appeal.

"But to make an appeal, I had to pay $535, which I can't afford because I'm not from a well-to-do family. Moreover, I just wanted to know why I was dropped, and wasn't thinking of forcing my way back in.

"There were also other teammates who were dropped, and when we spoke about it, I found out they were told why they were dropped, so why not be open with me too?"

The setback, however, hasn't tainted her love for the sport. In fact, she has vowed to work even harder to "prove the doubters wrong".

The federation has also said that the national team door is not closed on Tan.

Ng urged her to put the matter behind her and focus on training hard to get back into the team.

Said Ng: "We have told Yan Ni that there are many future competition opportunities. If she trains hard, stays disciplined and has the right attitude, there will be future opportunities for her to represent Singapore again."


This article was first published on April 15, 2015.
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