Lessons Singaporeans can learn from Joseph Schooling

Singapore's Joseph Schooling after competing in a heat for the men's 4x100m freestyle relay event at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 21, 2019.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling after competing in a heat for the men's 4x100m freestyle relay event at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 21, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

Joseph Schooling is Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist in swimming.

Obviously, Singaporeans are proud of him and his achievements. So much of his personal glory is a source of national pride.

But are Singaporeans a good sport like him?

Recently, Schooling did not do well in last week's Fina World Championships, and did not advance beyond the heats in the 50m butterfly.

This prompted Singapore head coach and performance director Stephan Widmer to come out and allay any fears among some people over the swimmer's ability (Don't count him out yet: S'pore Head Coach, July 27).

Singaporeans can learn a lesson or two from this national sports icon.

Schooling has the mental toughness to weather rough patches.

He told the press after his race (Huge reality check, July 27): "This was a huge reality check of what I need to do moving forward.

"All I can do is to fix things I could have done better and do better."

It seems some Singaporeans are so rooted in winning that they don't realise that setbacks are part of life and how we accept this reality can make us a different people, from being spectators to becoming active participants in our national affairs, be it sports or politics.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2019, with the headline 'Lessons Singaporeans can learn from Joseph Schooling'. Print Edition | Subscribe