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人外有人,天外。。。

July 30, 2012

Olympics is on TV everyday, so I want to talk about Olympics.  I never thought I would see even the opening ceremony because I am so busy preparing and teaching 5 days a week in the summer classes.  But it just so happened that my Malaysian friend’s son downloaded the whole thing and we were at their house for dinner.  And local NBC had yet to broadcast it, and we were enjoying the show complete with the option to fast forward or rewind.

Later that night, we went home and were able to watch many swimming events with my daughter.  I told my daughter that I never had a swimming coach and the only way I learnt swimming was from the secondary PE class and the teacher has to manage two classes (88 students).  But within weeks after knowing how to complete 50 m, my brother encouraged me to train with him and take part in the swim competition.  We were just mere beginners but he said we could beat the swimmers if we train hard enough.  I remember I then learned about the greatest Singapore swimmers we had, Mr Ang Peng Siong and maybe Miss Junie Sng (who had won the mini-Olympic):

S'pore Swimming National CoachJunie Sng

And the only VCR and TV we watched and observed, was that of Mark Spitz.  Those were our only coaches.  That year I won nothing.  But my brother got a gold with his 400M free-style.  After I go to ACJC, I got to hear more about Mr. Ang (because he was formerly an ACS boy) and fellow classmates who also represented the state in swimming.  “Boy were they good,” I often tell myself.

Today, I see my daughter go from a “barely completed 25 yard swimmer” to a girl in a swim heat together with lots and lots of other good swimmer of a small town team in Iroquois.  She trains/practses daily and I have to say it was gruesome.  Some days she has to manage a practice in the morning and a swim meet in the afternoon.  I got to see the hundreds of swimmers, everyone has to try all the 4 different styles despite whether your speciality is free-style or breast-stroke.  When I looked at the record for just a small town, and the way they inspire and train, I understand why Singapore would never reach the Olympics in swimming.  This is just an unknown town somewhere in America and yet the practice and result they could show was impressive beyond Singapore’s belief.  Singapore might encourage everyone to learn how to swim, but they have never achieve an excellence like that of even a small town in America.  Take Joseph Schooling for example, he has the chance to represent Singapore for both the SEA Games and 2012 Olympics.  All because he goes to school in Jacksonville Florida and is slightly talented in swimming.  But if one takes his best time, he would be fit enough to represent a state, but he will not come out top in the 50 states Championship.

It’s no wonder Abdul Hamid Khan was just a small fly in badminton when he met his counterparts in Indonesia and Malaysia.  It’s no wonder Ang Peng Siong, the so-called fastest swimmer in Singapore for years and years, never quite made it at the finals in the Olympics.  Our population size is to be blame.  But we do not have real athletes in Singapore.  Sports is only something good to have and the environment does not give them a sense of importance and seriousness.  Sports is never our thing, worry about tomorrow’s spelling or Math test is.  Almost everyone think about their Math or Chinese “tuition” at that age.  Despite what the kids thought was fun and good to do, nobody dares to engross all their time in their passion and pursue it.

Even after dangling the million-dollar carrots, Singapore could not get a local to get the gold medal.  The only way they have, is to lure foreigners to take up Singapore citizenship and represent this small island nation in the Olympics.  Even that has it bad side effect.  Everyone is Indonesia said, after you migrate and play for Singapore, your standard will surely drop.  That sounds like some unwarranted statement every Indonesian/Malaysian would say to deter local from going away and be “traitors”.  But past records (for e.g. Susilo and others) has proved that it is so.

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2 Comments
  1. The fact is, it takes a one that is very passionate to pursue sports in Singapore. The will to compete must be there. Other than small population, the passion to compete and win is also lacking. There are just too many distractions. Give the Sports School a chance to produce results. We are a young nation in many ways, sports is but one.

  2. I forgot to add, South and SE Asians are physically lacking too as compare to our Northern relatives. Can’t blame that.

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