SINGAPORE - Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling may not have been able to attend Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally on Sunday evening (Aug 21), but his parents Colin and May were present at ITE College Central.
It had been hoped that Schooling would get the green light from his school, the University of Texas, to stay in Singapore until after the rally, but the 21-year-old ended up flying back to the United States on Thursday night.
His parents were in the audience, along with members of Team Singapore, as Mr Lee praised the efforts of the Republic's athletes at the Rio Games, saying that the country is very proud of them.
The Singapore contingent won one gold medal in Rio de Janeiro - Schooling in the 100m butterfly swim - while the women's table tennis team lost a bronze-medal play-off against Japan.
Before delivering his Malay speech, Mr Lee also wished Singapore's paralympians all the best at the Rio Paralympic Games, which start in September.
Towards the end of his English speech, Mr Lee touched on Schooling’s achievement again, saying that Singapore is a nation where a young local boy can achieve his dream.
He recounted Schooling’s journey, from being inspired by his grand-uncle Lloyd Valberg, Singapore’s first Olympian, to dedicating himself to his goal and being cheered on by the whole nation.
“That’s how we produced an Olympic champion in Rio - Joseph Schooling,” Mr Lee said.
“Joseph will inspire many more, younger and older, to chase their dreams, to make the impossible come true.”