Win or lose, cheer athletes for effort

I love people-watching at the airport. I have seen sadness, happiness, pride and grief.

One recent scene was Joseph Schooling's arrival after winning Singapore's first Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The arrival area was a sea of red brimming with pride and joy. Everyone's faces wore smiles, and people screamed his name together with words such as "champion", "welcome home" and "well done".

Everyone was touched by his and his family's efforts, and many children were inspired.

This scene was easy to predict, and matched my imagination completely.

A few days later, our Singapore table-tennis team were to return from the Olympics with no medals.

I imagined how the team would feel when they arrived. My imagination went wild with scenes of drooping heads, empty lanes and hasty footsteps into taxis to avoid being recognised.

I was glad I was wrong. They were greeted by enthusiastic fans screaming the players' names and "jia you" ("fight on" in Mandarin) as encouragement ("Cheers despite empty harvest"; Aug 20).

I could see the players' faces brightening upon seeing the waving crowd welcoming them.

I am proud of our fans, for showing maturity and support for returning sports teams, whether they pocketed any medals or not.

Every member of Team Singapore works hard for our nation. They make sacrifices not known to us, and their journeys are long , tough and sometimes, lonely.

I salute them for their grit and unwavering determination. Let's embrace their efforts and passion.

Jess Loy Soo Hui (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Win or lose, cheer athletes for effort'. Subscribe