'Live' support from home can spur our Olympics contenders

Singapore's Joseph Schooling swimming the butterfly leg for the Men's 4x100m medley relay final at the 28th Sea Games swimming meet at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on June 11, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

The view that our Olympians do not promote social values, culture and heritage to help build Singapore's identity, encourage racial and religious harmony, as well as stimulate knowledge and learning is woefully short-sighted ("State should not fund live telecast of the Games" by Mr Francis Cheng; last Thursday).

How many Singaporeans have the opportunity and capability to contribute to drama on the world stage, and bring glory to their nation?

If an unknown swimmer from Suriname, Anthony Nesty, could beat giants like Matt Biondi and Michael Gross in the 100m men's butterfly event at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, so can Singapore's Joseph Schooling against Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos at the same event in Rio.

I am amazed that so few local corporations, cooperatives and government agencies have seized this chance to associate their brands with a potentially historic moment for Singaporean sports as well as with our Olympic class of 2016.

Instead of spending millions on a weekend event at Marina Bay, for instance, could these organisations not work with the rights holder and Mediacorp to create a series of sponsorship clips - comprising the performances of our athletes and other world-class ones at the Games?

These "key performance highlights" could be broadcast on all digital platforms, including their corporate websites.

Our athletes can do with the psychological boost of "live" support from their fellow Singaporeans.

A Schooling victory in his pet 100m men's butterfly event will be a first for Singapore and Asia.

Acing a race that is often won by the world's swimming superpowers is a big deal for a tiny nation like Singapore.

One can reasonably argue that more local eyeballs will be feasting on the exploits of our swimmers in Rio than, say, the Games' closing ceremony.

Is a programming swop feasible?

Can the programme offering be sliced and diced to suit the budget and needs of the local market?

I hope all parties can transcend the inertia of "penny wise, pound foolish" over the next few days and showcase what may well be an important milestone in our sports history.

The ability of human skills, spirit and sportsmanship to bridge parochial differences should not just be a function of dollars and cents.

Toh Cheng Seong

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2016, with the headline 'Live' support from home can spur our Olympics contenders. Subscribe