No backing, but all grit and passion

Even as we celebrate Singapore's first Olympic gold medal won by swimmer Joseph Schooling, we should not forget our first Olympic medallist Tan Howe Liang.

He won silver for weightlifting at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

He also won medals in other major sporting events, such as the Commonwealth, Asian and South-east Asian Peninsular games.

However, he lacked financial support throughout much of his sporting career, and had to take on jobs on the side to fund personal expenses and costs incurred while competing overseas.

He worked a variety of odd jobs, including as an electrician, store clerk and dock worker.

Tan was focused on achieving sporting success in an era when most people were just trying to make a living.

He did it for the love and passion for the sport, for himself and for his country, and this is a valuable lesson for the young.

Tan did all this in a time when there was little media, government or corporate support for sportsmen.

Tan has shown that if one puts one's mind to it, one can achieve greatness.

Albert Louis

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'No backing, but all grit and passion'. Print Edition | Subscribe