Joseph Schooling and Feng Tianwei are athletes doing honours

My heart was full of pride when Joseph Schooling won the Olympic Gold in this year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Joseph Schooling became Singapore’s first gold medalist in the Olympics.

The elation was soon deflated as I watched Feng Tianwei and her team-mates losing in the team Bronze medal competition against Japan. Feng was world ranking and yet she lost to a fifteen-year old Mima Ito. My heart went out to the Singapore table-tennis team and could not believe that Singapore did not win any medal in the table-tennis events.

To me, Feng Tianwei and Joseph Schooling are athletes trying to win honours for Singapore. They wore Singapore colours and had only one goal, which is to win a medal. I did not even think in terms of their backgrounds, whether they were foreign imports with a Singapore citizenship.

I can draw an analogy with my experience as a lecturer in a polytechnic. As a lecturer, my focus is to teach my students regardless of their backgrounds. The students are here to learn and do well for their academic pursuits. I will be happy for a student who achieves a Grade Point Average (GPA) of perfect 4. I celebrate with this student for the excellent results. At the same time, I will also be happy if some students do well but are not among the best in their cohort. They deserve our admirations too because they put in effort. The student’s background is irrelevant.

For all athletes in this Olympic, I salute you for trying to win honours for Singapore. If not for you, Singapore will not be competing in your events. Win or lose, medal or no medal, it is just in the nature of sports competition. It is the experience that matters.

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