Schooling deserves encouragement

Joseph Schooling after racing in the Men’s 200m freestyle at the Singapore National Swimming Championships on June 20, 2019.
Joseph Schooling after racing in the Men’s 200m freestyle at the Singapore National Swimming Championships on June 20, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Understandably, Singapore's Olympic gold medal swimmer Joseph Schooling, who brought great honour to Singapore but recently failed to make the finals of the 2019 Fina World Championships, has been a disappointment to Singaporeans.

But recriminations heaped upon him for his poor performance are certainly uncalled for (More at stake for Schooling than just his Olympic title, Aug 2).

For any athlete, it is a tough transition from an amateur to a professional career. And this is what Schooling is going through right now.

To criticise his failure to qualify for the recent finals as "an ignominious exit" and pointing to "unnecessary distractions in his life" is harsh and unfair.

He has been forthright with his reasons for the recent let-down. Yet this admission is considered a culpability.

This young man has a life to lead and it is not for the public to determine that his priority is to win another gold medal rather than meet the obligations of his professional career, which will have to outlast the acclaim and euphoria that the winning of golds would bring.

Instead of criticising him, we should be offering him encouragement in his quest for another gold medal despite the odds. It is easy to criticise from the sidelines when one is not actively involved or immersed in the sport.

There is still hope that he could bring more honour to Singapore as he is now aware of his imperfections in competition. He knows that he has to work harder to achieve peak performance. Let's be supportive of him rather than censorious as he strives towards this goal.

George Pasqual

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2019, with the headline 'Schooling deserves encouragement'. Print Edition | Subscribe