Backing crucial in producing winners in sports

Sports editor Marc Lim's commentary ("Success sweeter if athletes are backed from the start"; yesterday) is incisive and perceptive.

Indeed, everyone loves a winner. In fact, everyone wants to own a winner. By the same token, losers are, unfortunately, shunned. Even potential winners are accorded lip service until and unless they morph into winners. This is the grim reality of life.

So, how do we produce winners?

Talent is a given. To win, it takes a lot more than talent and includes:

••Supportive parents, the community and government, ready to extend financial and emotional support for the athlete's long and arduous journey to potential stardom.

••Access to top-notch training and international competition exposure.

••Belief and faith in the athlete's ability to deliver the desired outcome.

••Preparedness to accept the risk of failure, as the best-hatched plans can go awry.

I am appalled that rower Saiyidah Aisyah and sailors Justin Liu and Denise Lim, among others, had to make it to the Rio Olympics largely on their own dime.

Despite their talents, the lack of financial resources to avail themselves of the best training and exposure will likely be a stumbling block to victory.

Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling could maximise his potential because of his parents' unstinting financial support.

So, it is a chicken and egg issue.

With Schooling's success, many large corporations and individuals have been quick to associate themselves with a winner.

It would be a boon to Singapore sports if these same entities and individuals would sponsor athletes with the talent and potential to gain a place on the world's sporting stage. In this way, talented athletes can focus fully on training and bettering themselves, without having to worry about financial matters.

They are also more likely to give their best, as they will not relish the thought of disappointing their sponsors.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Backing crucial in producing winners in sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe