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A Glimpse Back at 2006: Tragedy or Treachery?
  • February 10th, 2007

Zhang Guirong, Du Xuanhui

In the month of October 2006, two months before the then highly anticipated Asian Games, two of Singapore’s medal hopefuls, Zhang Guirong and Du Xuanhui were dropped from the squad, causing a considerable amount of sports related local media commotion.

The winning distance for the Doha Asian Games’ shotput event was 16.70 metres, a mark set by by Taiwan’s Lin Chia Ying. Judging from their efforts in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games held several months prior to the Asian Games, Zhang and Du’s respectable distances of 17.39 metres and 16.76 metres would have easily decimated any competitive opposition in this aspect of Track and Field by a clear and comfortable margin.

Zhang Guirong and Du Xuanhui never did fail a drug test, and they had always upheld Singapore’s image as a clean and honourable sporting nation through the infallible dedication they had for their rigorous training sessions. Their pride in representing Singapore as true citizens, making the sacrifice of leaving the land of their birth and being oceans apart from their kin are all aspects which they had been determined to achieve and overcome in their pursuit of national sporting glory.

Zhang Guirong

It must be noted that before this issue appeared on the pages of the sports section in the local newspapers, Zhang Guorong and Du Xuanhui had fallen out with the Singapore Athletic Association’s (SAA) head-honcho, Mr. Loh Lin Kok. Bringing the girls to tears through his reprimanding of them, the two disheartened throwers accepted timely monetary aid from Mr. Tang Weng Fei, who had relinquished his role in the SAA for quite a while by then, and headed back to China in order to train effectively, quietly and with one goal in mind: To bring back a medal in the shotput event during the Asian Games, which would have been a first for Singapore.

Du Xuanhui

It was claimed that the two throwers had not provided their exact addresses and this was in defiance of the rules of the International Amateur Athletic Association (IAAF). However, it brings two questions of curiosity to one’s mind: Was this really true and wouldn’t it be better to work together with the throwers in question for a ‘medal-salvaging’ resolution rather than simply condemning them as potential cheaters-to-be? Mr. Loh remarked “What if my two throwers had gone and then failed a drugs testĀ, Newspapers worldwide would carry the news, and our good reputation would be tarnished” … and “I had the country’s best interests at heart when I decided to drop the girls” in one local newspaper.

Now, being a cheater and having the potential to cheat without thorough and proven evidence are two very different things. Sometimes, personal grudges and discriminations may cross the paths of fair and objective evaluation. When this happens, only the country suffers as vital chances for national glory would be lost for good. This incident, though long buried by now in the archives of the local Track and Field scene, serves as essential brain fodder for athletes who can now consider if they would face a similar wrath if they ever stood on the wrong side of the scales of power with regards to Track and Field in Singapore. Does this impede Singapore’s development of world class Track and Field athletes? Were the throwers subjected to tragic, uncalled for suffering or were they justifiably punished for their failure to comply with the rules of the governing world body? You be the judge.

Disclaimer: This article purely reflects the view of the writer and is not representative of singaporeathletics.com’s opinion on the issue

Photos courtesy of Jiun Lin

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Posted by The Critic.
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