Invest in, don't just congratulate, local athletes

Rio 2016 has been a wake-up call.

As the initial euphoria and celebrations die down, and old news clippings are dug up, I find myself asking: Where were we when Joseph Schooling needed us years ago, Singapore ("Success sweeter if athletes are backed from the start"; Tuesday, and "Backing crucial in producing winners in sports" by Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan; Wednesday)?

Companies were quick to take out advertisements congratulating Schooling after his win. Would they be as quick to sponsor promising local athletes?

I was happy for Schooling and his parents when the swimmer won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal.

The price for that medal was largely paid by Schooling and his parents.

Most of us did not speak up for him, express our belief in him or invest in him at the start of his journey.

Given what the family had to go through on their own, they did not have to share the gold medal with us. Yet, they have done so at every opportunity. And for that, I have the utmost respect for them.

I am now more in awe of, and inspired and touched by, the graciousness and magnanimity of the Schooling family.

Let us not forget the message that Joseph Schooling has taught us - don't brush aside our young, local athletes. Let us believe and invest in our local athletes.

Nurkhalisah Kassim (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Invest in, don't just congratulate, local athletes'. Print Edition | Subscribe