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Swimming: Back to Joscelin's first love

Joscelin Yeo admits her teenage self from the 1990s would never have imagined running for office in the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA).

SINGAPORE: Joscelin Yeo admits her teenage self from the 1990s would never have imagined running for office in the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA).

No longer the swimming protege who shot to fame at 14 at the 1993 SEA Games at home, Yeo at 35 is a mother to two young sons, and back in the swimming fold, ready for whatever may come as the SSA heads into one of its most exciting election battles in recent times.

One of the fresh faces in the SSA's drive for leadership renewal, Yeo is expected to contest for vice-president (swimming) in current SSA secretary-general Lee Kok Choy's team. Lee is contesting the presidency and has waterpolo veteran Samuel Wong, Jerome Lau and outgoing chief Jeffrey Leow in his slate.

Current bowling chief Jessie Phua heads the opposing team, with a roster that includes former swimmer Mark Chay, Samson Tan and Lau Kum Weng. Nominations for the election close on Friday and the SSA's annual general meeting (AGM) will be held on June 13.

"I've always been involved in sports with the Asian Youth Games, Youth Olympic Games and as an NMP (Nominated Member of Parliament)," said Yeo in an interview with TODAY. "I really enjoyed it because it's like coming back to your love.

"Jeffrey (Leow) approached me about two months ago ... I was a little bit surprised as there wasn't an opportunity in swimming for so many years. But the important thing was to hear from him and meet the other team members and we have a strong slate for this Friday's nomination."

Yeo is the most recognisable new name to emerge in this election contest. As the Republic's Golden Girl, she won 40 gold medals at the SEA Games from 1991 to 2005, two bronze medals at the Asian Games, went to four Olympic Games from 1992 to 2004 before retiring in early 2007.

A fierce competitor in the pool in the past, the present day Yeo is mellowed and insists she has nothing to prove.

"I love swimming, it's something I'm passionate about and I want to be involved. My personal style is very much about mentoring and helping people. The people in the team are all passionate about the sport and want to bring it to a new level... We have the same values and no hidden agenda," said Yeo.

A part-time church counsellor, Yeo has been making the rounds among the association's affiliate clubs, listening to feedback and suggestions from the fraternity. Aside from improving engagement with the 35 affiliate clubs, she also plans to revive the SSA's athletes' commission to give the swimmers an avenue to voice their concerns and provide inputs.

Asked if she would consider a future tilt at the top post, Yeo said: "I won't discount it ... Where this path goes, I don't know. But if I'm given the opportunity, I would love to make a difference and be involved."

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