Sports success a win for economy too

Sports successes like Schooling's Olympics win are also a win for the economy.
Sports successes like Schooling's Olympics win are also a win for the economy.PHOTO: REUTERS

Just like the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, which brought a lot of tourists to our shores to eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, shop in our malls and bring other tourism-related financial benefits to Singapore, so, too, will Joseph Schooling's achievements in Rio bring collateral financial benefits, not only to Singapore sports per se, but also to the nation ("Historic moment for Schooling, historic moment for Singapore"; Sunday).

He is a net gross domestic product generator to the Singapore economy from the visibility he has generated.

Our sports institutions must keep this in mind when it comes to investing in Schooling aspirants, not just from a sports standpoint but in terms of national returns as well.

Schooling did not just win Singapore's first Olympic gold medal. He also beat Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all time, in the most difficult swim event, and in record time.

You might call this a triple triumph. It is special, and the world takes notice.

Every time Schooling steps onto the starting block from here on, he will attract hundreds of millions of eyeballs on TV, and after-race media coverage.

The Singapore flag on his cap and his apparel makes him a walking ambassador for the country.

We do not have too many top-of-mind-recall icons, besides Changi Airport's air traffic control tower, the Marina Bay Sands building and the Merlion.

Schooling has just added himself to the collection of icons.

He has brought us closer as a nation.

I am sure the sports authorities have had moments of reflection in the past few days on how to make things even better and bring about more Schooling moments to motivate our young sportsmen and sportswomen.

Ray Teo Guat Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Sports success a win for economy too'. Print Edition | Subscribe