The Sunday Times says

Treasuring Paralympic stars

Sport seems to be the gift that keeps on giving for Singapore this year. The nation was ecstatic when Joseph Schooling broke Singapore's glass ceiling for Olympic excellence among able-bodied athletes by swooshing to victory in the 100m butterfly at the Rio Olympics - in record time, no less. Less than a month later, para-athlete Yip Pin Xiu became the first Singaporean to win multiple events in a single Paralympics when she swam to a golden brace in the 100m backstroke S2 and the 50m backstroke S2 in Rio. For good measure, she smashed the world record in the 100m backstroke as well.

The accomplishments of both these stars, not to mention other athletes who have done the nation proud, should be valued in full measure. Those who are quick to tweet selfies, for example, with one but not another betray their lack of appreciation of what sporting excellence truly means. All athletes who break barriers - international, national or personal - deserve every accolade as many often do this against all odds.

What these victories collectively promise is also something that Singaporeans should dwell on. One ought to discuss what will make para-athlete excellence more widespread and well known, rather than just debate the difference in rewards between Olympic and Paralympic medals - an equation that hinges on relative competitive intensity, among other factors.

Thanks to the golden performances, the public appetite for sporting achievement has been whetted and media exposure has been excellent. More community support and funding will deepen participation and keep the momentum going over many years, as stars cannot be created overnight. But the game changer must be the positive public attitude towards all victories. Paralympians' achievements must also be celebrated in a genuine manner, and not out of political correctness.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Treasuring Paralympic stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe