SMA Suspended following “violation” of sporting ethos

I recently reported about the SMA imposing new rules for the provision of masters athletics, in essense applying standards to allow people to compete, this story about “standards” has evoked some great debate around the future of Masters Athletics with proponents for both sides of the argument stepping froward.

As the current rules stand however, the SMA would be in direct contradiction of the rules as set by the World Masters Athletics and its ethos of athletics for life and for all.

Singapore Masters Athletics (SMA), a voting affiliate of Singapore Athletics, has been provisionally suspended by the national sports association for what SA has deemed a “violation” of its tasks.

This was in response to an appeal by several veteran athletes two weeks ago.

They expressed concerns over the way the Masters community for track and field athletes aged 35 and above is being managed.

The letter to SA president Tang Weng Fei urged the local athletics body to step in and listed five reasons for their unhappiness.

Among these were the SMA’s insistence on qualifying marks, selection criteria and minimum attendance at training sessions, which the signatories felt were “contrary to the underlying principle and ethos of Masters athletics”.

SMA is the country’s affiliate to the Asian Masters Athletics and World Masters Athletics.


Explaining the provisional suspension, which was sent to SMA president Glory Barnabas, Tang told The Straits Times yesterday: “Because of all these allegations and complaints, we view it as a violation in terms of what they should be doing, so other than submitting the entry for the Asian Masters, it’s just a provisional suspension for them to give us a written explanation so that it should not be extended to a permanent suspension.”

SMA has until Sept 10 to provide a written explanation in relation to the allegations and complaints. It will also be required to provide all documentation and records of its last annual general meeting, when the current management committee was elected.

All accounts and records of SMA’s membership, in particular, the list of paying members, and updated accounts showing its updated income and expenditure are needed too.

During this time, all SMA activities, including policies, except for registration for December’s Asia Masters Athletics meet in Kuching, are temporarily suspended.

SMA deputy president Samuel Veera Singaram was caught unaware by the suspension yesterday, but told ST that SMA will reply SA and release a press statement with supporting documents and voice recordings.

Edmond Pereira, president of Flash Athletics Club, was among the signatories to the letter to SA. He hopes that the matter can be resolved with SA’s involvement.

He said: “It’s unfortunate, but I hope that good sense will prevail. They must go back to the table to resolve this. Masters is quite different from normal competitive sport, it’s supposed to give opportunities for more senior athletes, late bloomers to go into the sport, enjoy events.

“Now they suddenly get all these rules, put everybody off guard, disrupt the atmosphere, go against the ethos of the Masters.”

But Veera said last night it was necessary to make changes to the system, saying: “There needs to be minor checks and balances.

“We provide free training, making sure that our athletes are well and conditioned to be at these meets. The question is, is this being treated as a fun race or a competition?

“We feel as representatives of Singapore, you should be proud to present Singapore, proud of the flag. We want to practise equality for all.”