By Terrence Voon
ALARMS bells are ringing after the provisional squad for Singapore's track and field representatives in the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) were revealed yesterday.
According to the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA), there is a 'shocking' lack of talent and depth across almost all disciplines - which may lead to mediocre performances at the YOG and beyond.
Qualifying times and distances posted by the 16 shortlisted athletes (eight boys and eight girls) have fallen well short of the benchmarks set by the SAA.
More tellingly, there were no throwers among the squad, who comprise 12 runners and four jumpers.
SAA chief executive officer Steven Yeo told The Straits Times yesterday that the squad's initial results do not augur well for the future of Singapore athletics.
'Looking at the supply chain of talent, it is shocking to see we're nowhere near the international benchmarks we had set,' he said. 'New talents are not coming up and we have no depth in many events, especially for the girls.'
Under the qualifying criteria for the YOG, athletes had to take part in the SAA's All-Comers meets in January and February this year, as well as last week's National Junior Championships.
Their results are then averaged and benchmarked against the 10th-placed performances at the last three IAAF World Youth Championships, which are for athletes 17 years or younger.
None of Singapore's shortlisted YOG hopefuls met their benchmarks. As a result, the athletes were ranked based on how close they came to the required standards.
According to the SAA's calculations, sprinter Donovan Chan, 17, was the closest. His qualifying time of 11.16sec in the boys' 100m was 0.37sec away from the World Youth Championships mark.
Liang Wei, who finished ninth at last year's Asian Youth Games, posted 12.71sec in the girls' 100m - 0.79sec slower than the benchmark time.