Tokyo Olympics: It's time Singapore gives its Olympians extra push for success

7/8/2021 11:22:00 AM

With more athletes daring to go for the Olympics, it is time for Singapore to give extra support for those who qualify for the Games, says Yahoo's Chia Han Keong.

Tokyo 2020, Joseph Schooling

'When Singapore sends its athletes to the Olympics, the sporting community seems content to just pat the athletes on their backs, commend them for making the cut – and not do anything extra to give them a push for outstanding results' Tokyo2020

With more athletes daring to go for the Olympics, it is time for Singapore to give extra support for those who qualify for the Games, says Yahoo's Chia Han Keong.

Singapore's first and only Olympic gold medal was won in Rio de Janeiro via a combination of Schooling's lifelong ambition, his exceptional mental fortitude, and a long series of astute decisions by him and his parents - with help from the sports community in Singapore - to ensure he got the right environment and coaching to eventually succeed.

Don't just stop at applauding athletes for qualificationSo yes, they should be applauded for their qualifications. Journalists are fed the usual lines ofPush for personal-bests at GamesThat said, when most of the 23 Singapore athletes could not come close to achieving their personal-bests in Tokyo – you can argue that only paddler Yu Mengyu and sailors Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low had their best-ever performances – then perhaps a rethink is required on how to give them the best opportunities to do so.

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A bit of extra pushing might help, but you have to think will they grow well or overreach? And also are they limited because of genetics and strict food intake, a total of 23 athletes competed from this country, compare that to the US with 613 which came in first with most gold

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Diving: Singapore's Jonathan Chan bows out of men's 10m platform at Tokyo OlympicsTOKYO — Diver Jonathan Chan finished 26th out of 29 divers in the men’s 10m platform preliminary round at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday (Aug 6).

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Singapore's Joseph Schooling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.LinkedIn TOKYO: Diver Jonathan Chan finished 26th out of 29 divers in the men’s 10m platform preliminary round at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday (Aug 6)..LinkedIn TOKYO :New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games in a different gender category to that assigned at birth, but she suffered a disappointing early exit from the women's +87 kg final after three no lifts in the snatch.

(PHOTO: Scarff/AFP) Reporting from Tokyo TOKYO — By now it should be clear that Joseph Schooling's monumental swimming gold five year ago was a glorious one-off, and not the culmination of a systematic plan for Olympic medal success. Singapore's first and only Olympic gold medal was won in Rio de Janeiro via a combination of Schooling's lifelong ambition, his exceptional mental fortitude, and a long series of astute decisions by him and his parents - with help from the sports community in Singapore - to ensure he got the right environment and coaching to eventually succeed. He scored a total of 311. This is the demand that sport's grandest stage exacts on an aspiring athlete – to win an Olympic medal requires a top-class support system to provide that extra edge against other competitors, whether within an athlete's inner circle or through institutional support. And with 17 debutants among the 23 Team Singapore athletes at these Games – proof that more Singaporeans are daring to dream the Olympic dream – is it time that Singapore starts giving these sportspeople that extra supportive push in their quests for medals? Don't just stop at applauding athletes for qualification The oft-cited cliche for the Olympics goes, "It's already a big achievement to make it to the Olympics. Held at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the preliminary was won by China’s Yang Jian, who scored a total of 546. Everyone who makes it is already a winner. Hubbard's landmark appearance in Monday's competition lasted just 10 minutes, with each of her first three efforts in the snatch ruled no lifts.

" There is no denying that to qualify for the Olympics requires a near-superhuman effort, honed through years of constant and gruelling training. Chan, who is the last Team Singapore athlete to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, began the preliminary round with a score of 51, and followed it up with a score of 54. There is no way a casual, part-time athlete can succeed; most of the Team Singapore athletes have put their studies or careers on hold to earn their Olympic spots. So yes, they should be applauded for their qualifications. He then went on to record scores of 51.  The thing is, every time when Singapore sends its athletes to the Olympics, the sporting community seems content to just pat the athletes on their backs, commend them for making the cut – and not do anything extra to give them a push for outstanding results at the Games. Story continues Journalists are fed the usual lines of "we're not setting a medal target, we just hope they can perform at their best" from sports officials all the time.6, 44. "And as such, I would particularly like to thank the IOC, for I think really affirming its commitment to the principles of Olympism and establishing that sport is something for all people, that it is inclusive and is accessible.

And while the clear intention of not setting a medal target is not to pile unnecessary mental pressure on Olympic athletes, it may also breed a sense of self-satisfaction that works against athletes being motivated to achieve their personal-bests at the Games. Push for personal-bests at Games Should there be greater emphasis on performance indicators such as "personal bests", if athletes have little chance for medals? To some fans, it should be the minimum expectation for each Singapore athlete at the Olympics, but that is a tad too harsh.4 on his sixth and final dive. It is always tricky to outdo one's best result in a foreign environment, particularly if the playing field consists of top-class opponents. That said, when most of the 23 Singapore athletes could not come close to achieving their personal-bests in Tokyo – you can argue that only paddler Yu Mengyu and sailors Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low had their best-ever performances – then perhaps a rethink is required on how to give them the best opportunities to do so. The 24-year-old had booked his berth at the Olympics in 2019 after he won the Men’s 10m platform final at the Asian Diving Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Singapore diver JonathanChan competing in the men's 10m platform event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Under the IOC guidelines, transgender athletes can compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are under 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

(PHOTO: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP) And it's not necessary to insist on a medal target for the athletes to meet. Sign in now at and get into the action with Mediacorp, Singapore’s Olympics Network Source: CNA/kg. What Singapore sports needs to do is to stop congratulating them too early, and instead provide as good a preparation as it could to give them a high chance for success. Emulating Schooling's benchmark for success The fact is that Schooling has set a benchmark for Olympic success. There was a gradual build-up to his Rio peak - a Commonwealth Games silver and an Asian Games gold in 2014, a nine-gold SEA Games haul in 2015, then an Asian-record race time and a bronze at the 2015 World Championships.  In the months leading up the Rio Games, he was still seeking that extra edge – such as bulking up for more stroke strength – to shave fractions off his race times. "I'm going to be selfish today.

By the time he began his gold-winning swim in Rio, he was confident and ready to exceed his limits again. Singapore's sports associations have to raise their games to that benchmark, in order not for Schooling's feat be a one-off. Do away with the mentality that qualification is enough, and start work years beforehand to get the Singapore athletes adequately prepared for the unforgiving competition at the Olympics. Meanwhile, Sport Singapore and the Singapore National Olympic Council should help ensure these promising athletes get as much peace of mind in their studies and careers as possible. Scholarships and financial grants must be an integral part of the support system. She had an uphill battle here.

Not resting on laurels of medal winners Singapore Sport Institute chief Toh Boon Yi acknowledged that there are always things that Singapore can do better to support the athletes such as in the area of medical treatment and sports science. "Can we provide more intimate medical support? We can never say no, but it's a question of cost versus effectiveness for the sports associations," he said during an online media conference on Saturday (7 August) reviewing the Singapore athletes' performances in Tokyo. "At this stage, we don't think there is any big 'red flag' where there has not been adequate support. But there are always more things we can do better." Indeed, it is only right that Singapore should not rest on Schooling's laurels, and expect only him to be the perennial medal hopeful.

Every athlete - Schooling included - hopes that individual or team success at the highest level can inspire others to similar heights.  The Tokyo Olympics is the first time since the 2004 Athens Games that Singapore could not win a medal. And while all the Singapore athletes have put in their utmost amid all the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that many had not been able to reach their heights means something needs to be done to set them on the path to personal bests. Let's not just pay lip service to the athletes on making to the Olympics. Otherwise we would be devaluing Schooling's gold.

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