At first, we didn’t really take notice.
Olympics again ah? So fast?
Live telecast or not, does it even matter since I get my news off social media anyway?
But on Saturday morning, many Singaporeans were tuned in to watch Joseph Schooling beat 7 respected competitors, including the superhuman Phelps, with an Olympic record no less.
Joseph Schooling winning 100m butterfly (Mediacorp)
What lessons did Joseph school all of Singapore with that single gold medal?
That even if your nation has a lacklustre interest in local sports talent, with the Lions XII dissolved and Pokémon Go is the most popular mass sporting event in Singapore, it all doesn’t matter because there are a beautiful few close ones who still believe in you.
But it won’t work unless you also have this.
1. A belief in yourself to achieve your dreams.
I previously wrote about having and giving up my dreams.
The older I got, the more practical and sceptical I became.
The funny thing is how we hang on so tightly to inspirational stories of people even worse off than us (like Yusra Martini, who swam more than 3 hours valiantly with 2 other to push a boat with 17 fellow refugees), yet we scoff at the idea that a fellow Singaporean can make it.
Yusra Mardini, #TeamRefugees (UNHCR)
How many parents would give up so much just to support their child’s dream of pursuing his sporting interest?
When the Singapore Sports School first started, the running joke was that if you go there, you’ll end up stupid because no other school would accept you as a sportsman.
Maybe Singaporeans are too practical, because they know the odds of making it big as a sportsman is only that much, compared to the investment for a good coach, training fees, gear and travel expenses for competitions.
Yet sportsmen can’t compete their whole lives. Soccer players retire around 40+, swimmers around 30+, maybe the ‘longest’ sports you can survive in is golf (the ol’ geezers’ game).
But we forget, sports isn’t just about competing.
2. It’s also about building up the next generation of sportsmen.
It’s about discovering how sports gives a whole new legit meaning to the lives of people who have lost their direction.
When we are expected to outlive our jobs and even companies, people still need to stay active. Their children still need to grow up and learn various sports.
Some adults seek good trainers to pick up a new sport or even go for sports therapy to help in their pregnancies or recovery regimes (e.g. aqua exercise).
Elderly folks require exercise to stay healthy, and some like being connected to the community.
Sports is almost as essential as breathing is.
So once again, thank you Joseph, for reminding us to believe in ourselves when not many other people care, and giving us a newfound respect for sports in our lives, which some of us have sadly forgotten.
Olympics and Paralympics Team Singapore 2016 (TodayOnline)
And to all other athletes, no country can survive based on a single person’s accomplishments.
We are a team, and we have to learn how to behave like a team, just as you have.
Also published on Medium.