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Champ enjoys two firsts in the House

Schooling snapping a photo with PM Lee and other MPs yesterday. In a Facebook post, the Prime Minister said the 21-year-old has "shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for". The House gave Schooling a 30-second sta
Schooling snapping a photo with PM Lee and other MPs yesterday. In a Facebook post, the Prime Minister said the 21-year-old has "shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for". PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Schooling snapping a photo with PM Lee and other MPs yesterday. In a Facebook post, the Prime Minister said the 21-year-old has "shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for". The House gave Schooling a 30-second sta
The House gave Schooling a 30-second standing ovation yesterday - a first for a local athlete. Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist was also the subject of an unprecedented motion in Parliament to formally congratulate him on his win.PHOTO: TV GRAB/MEDIACORP

It moves motion to formally congratulate Schooling, who also gets standing ovation

Swimmer Joseph Schooling walked into Parliament yesterday to enjoy two firsts, besides the Olympic gold he clinched for the country last week.

He was the subject of an unprecedented motion in the House to formally congratulate him on his win.

Four MPs paid tribute to his achievements, but a full House gave him a 30-second standing ovation - another first for a local athlete.

FAMILY EFFORT

It takes a village to raise an Olympic champion, they say - but, above all, it takes a family. Joseph's No. 1 fans and supporters are undoubtedly his parents, Colin and May. They dedicated their lives to supporting Joseph's Olympic dream. They made huge sacrifices to provide the fullest support possible to help their son realise his dreams. They were with Joseph every step of the way; they always believed in him, and cheered him on at all his swim meets. They are an embodiment of what family means.

MR TAN CHUAN-JIN, Minister for Social and Family Development and president of the Singapore National Olympic Council, paying tribute to Colin and May Schooling during the motion to congratulate their son on his Rio 2016 gold.

Many were also charmed by him as he snacked and chatted with them during a break.

Last Saturday, Schooling beat swimming greats Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh in the 100m butterfly and smashed the Olympic record.

While acknowledging the work that the 21-year-old put in to achieve the historic win, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who tabled the motion, also highlighted the various support systems that brought Schooling to the top of the podium.

At the fore are his parents Colin and May Schooling - "Joseph's No. 1 fans and supporters", said Mr Tan, who is president of the Singapore National Olympic Council.

"They dedicated their lives to supporting Joseph's Olympic dream. They made huge sacrifices to provide the fullest support possible to help their son realise his dreams," he said.

He also acknowledged Sport Singapore for providing the Sports Excellence Scholarship, which allowed Schooling to train full time, and the Defence Ministry for deferring his national service commitments.

Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, said his ministry and Sport Singapore will "continue to support many more young athletes, who have no doubt been inspired by Schooling, to similarly excel and fulfil their sporting aspirations".

He also encouraged Singaporeans to cheer this year's local Paralympians - the largest contingent to date - with the "same fervour and passion" as they did Schooling.

Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) also sought to honour other athletes who represent Singapore, saying: "We know you have put in so much just to get there.  Whether you win or lose - we salute you."

Besides raising the profile of local athletes, Schooling's win has brought together a country, said MPs.

Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), noting that Singaporeans of all races supported Schooling throughout the nail-biting minute, said: "All of us roared until you touched the wall."

Similarly, Ms Lim mentioned that a neighbour, who hardly talks to her, struck up a conversation with her in the lift over the race.

Later, some MPs asked the swimmer for selfies. Among them was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who in a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post shared a photo of him and Schooling and wrote: "Usually people ask me for selfies, but today I felt so proud to ask Joseph for one!"

Later, in another post, he said Schooling has "shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for".

"Many of our athletes have come away from the Olympics with new personal bests, and valuable experience going up against the world's best," he said.

He cited swimmer Quah Zheng Wen, who set two new personal bests, rower Saiyidah Aisyah, who reached the quarter-finals, and sprinter Timothee Yap and shuttler Derek Wong, who faced Usain Bolt and Lee Chong Wei respectively - "both the best in the world".

"They have worked hard, and they all deserve recognition for their efforts," he added.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was impressed with Schooling's appetite, noting in a Facebook post how he "tucked into a curry puff, a cheesecake and a plate of noodles".

Noting that the swimmer has set his sights on more gold medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Mr Goh said he was a likeable, mature "young man whose gentlemanliness belies the steel and fire in him".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Champ enjoys two firsts in the House'. Print Edition | Subscribe