Start now, do more to nurture home-grown Joseph Schoolings

Joseph Schooling's Olympic success reminds all of us that we can choose to do something different; that it is important to aim high in life; that we should never give up; that childhood dreams do come true.

But budding athletes who are inspired by Schooling and want to emulate his success need more support from the Government.

We must nurture local athletes and find sponsorship for them from large corporations. Sadly, it seems that it is easier to find sponsorship for celebrities than for athletes ("Success sweeter if athletes are backed from the start"; Aug 16 and "Backing crucial in producing winners in sports" by Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan; Aug 17).

Singapore should also concentrate on supporting home-grown athletes, rather than attracting foreign-born athletes to represent us, with offers of citizenship. I am sure there are more Joseph Schoolings in Singapore who can and will win medals in future.

Singapore is more focused on academic achievements than sports, and we need to start changing the mindset of parents and students now, as building a sporting culture takes time.

If we do not start pushing strongly for sports now, how will we produce more successful athletes from Singapore?

We must offer our biggest talents attractive salaries in exchange for their total commitment.

Major sports such as netball, football and shooting have typically been placed on the highest tiers of funding. But with the bulk going to paying staff salaries and coaching fees, there is usually hardly any surplus to go around.

Greater flexibility should be given to athletes doing their national service so that they can fly the Singapore flag high in international or regional competitions.

We should also offer more grants and sports scholarships to groom local talent.

A vibrant sporting scene, where athletes train full time without reservations, is not one that can be built overnight. It will take time, as well as ample support from stakeholders such as the Government, parents, sports administrators, corporate sponsors and employers.

V. Balu