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'Due processes' followed in dropping SEA Games champion from squad: Fencing Singapore

The national fencing body says it was "not possible" to explore alternative arrangements to support Samson Lee's needs.

'Due processes' followed in dropping SEA Games champion from squad: Fencing Singapore

Singapore fencer Samson Lee. (Photo: Instagram/samsonlee.lmh)

SINGAPORE: "Due processes" were followed in Fencing Singapore's move to exclude one of its top athletes from its Southeast Asian (SEA) Games squad, the national sports association said on Thursday (Apr 27).

It added that "full consideration" was given to Mr Samson Lee’s "mitigating factors", before the decision was reached.

Mr Lee, who won team gold at the 2021 SEA Games, posted on Instagram last Saturday that he would be sitting out of the upcoming SEA Games in Cambodia even though he "rightfully qualified" for both individual and team spots.

The 36-year-old wrote that he had been "withdrawn by the association" after missing three training sessions, which he described as falling within one of his busiest and toughest periods.

CNA understands that the sessions Mr Lee missed were due to his father's hospitalisation and his wife giving birth.

"My hard work, preparation, training, competition results ... All for nothing, because it was decided by them that these three training sessions I missed, weighed far more than all my effort and work I’ve put in to prepare for the SEA Games," said the founder of SG Academy of Fencing.

In a statement on Thursday, Fencing Singapore said it has been flexible when fencers meet "special circumstances", noting that its athletes have been exempted from similar training requirements in the past.

"In such cases, upon being informed Fencing Singapore explores alternative arrangements to support the fencer’s needs, subject to sufficient lead time. 

"In Mr Lee’s case, with the SEA Games starting in May, this was not possible and we share in his disappointment," the association said.

Fencing Singapore added that it had to consider other national team members who were also aware of training requirements and "would have rightful expectations of taking Mr Lee’s place".

It confirmed there would be no replacement for Mr Lee in the team event, while a fencer who "has met the necessary training requirements" will replace Mr Lee in the individual event.

In response to CNA's queries, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said Mr Si To Jian Tong was Mr Lee's replacement in the individual event. 

A replacement request for the team event did not meet the criteria set by SEA Games organisers for late athlete replacements, said SNOC, which sets the selection criteria for major games and endorses nominations from national sports associations (NSAs).

"In addition to SNOC’s selection criteria, the selected athletes have to fulfil the NSA’s selection requirements to be nominated by the NSA to the SNOC for consideration," SNOC added.

"We are guided by the NSAs in the areas of training requirements and these requirements are reflected in their selection policies."

In a new Instagram post on Thursday, Mr Lee said: "It wasn’t meant to be a fight, it was just to share my situation and move on.

"Once again thank you to all for the words of encouragement ... It really means a lot to me and I truly appreciate it."

The 32nd SEA Games will be hosted by Cambodia and will run from May 5 to May 17.

Source: CNA/fh(jo)


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