SINGAPORE: The sport of rowing has been left off the initial list of events for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) to be held in Singapore.
And it is still unclear if Singapore rowers will get a chance to replicate their gold medal performance at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games.
A decision on the final programme is expected by April 2014, after the region's National Olympic Committee chiefs have discussed the issue.
But the sport still faces some rough waters ahead.
Singapore's first rowing singles gold medallist received a nasty surprise when she returned from her victorious outing in Myanmar.
Saiyidah Aisyah was greeted by caterpillar-like creatures at the Singapore Rowing Association's headquarters at Pandan Reservoir.
The creatures appeared while the team was away competing at the Myanmar SEA Games, and the Association alerted the National Environment Agency on Tuesday about the infestation.
Turning its current home into a facility that can host the SEA Games will be one of the Association's challenges if rowing is included in the 2015 edition.
And it may have to look for a new home after its lease at Pandan Reservoir expires in 2016.
Nicholas Ee, president of the Singapore Rowing Association, said: "We need a place more open to public and more accessible to the rowing venue, especially in Marina Bay. It's a good venue for our sports awareness and programme."
It is understood that the Marina Bay venue may not be long enough to host the two-kilometre race in which Saiyidah Aisyah clinched gold in at this year's SEA Games.
She won the women's 2,000 metres lightweight single sculls event, but only after trailing for three-quarters of the race.
Mr Ee said: "Most of our counterparts in Southeast Asia have agreed. If we don't have 2,000 metres, we can do it at 1,000 metres, similar to Youth Olympic Games in 2010, and also Doha Asian Games in 2006, where we only had a 1,000 metre venue. That shouldn't be an issue, that we (rowing) should not be included into the SEA Games."
But it remains to be seen if local rowers, including Saiyidah Aisyah, can excel at the shorter events.
And the Association said funding continues to be an issue, as more money is required to develop athletes and replace ageing equipment.
It received about S$100,000 from the Singapore Sports Council this year, and said it needs about twice that amount to be able to comfortably develop athletes and purchase necessary equipment.
It added that it is seriously considering seeking out sponsorships.
Saiyidah Aisyah said: "Hopefully, more companies or individuals who believe in sporting individuals, who want to achieve their dreams would come forward and support us, whether in terms of bringing people into the sport, not only in monetary terms."
The rower credits much of her win in Myanmar to top-class coaching, another area that the Association hopes to focus on as it aims to field rowers in up to 12 events that could feature in the programme in 2015. - CNA/gn
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