Olympics: Talks with Mindef about Schooling's NS deferment to continue, says Tan Chuan-Jin

Joseph Schooling posing with his gold medal after winning the 100m butterfly final. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said talks with the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) about Joseph Schooling's long-term national service (NS) deferment will continue to take place.

The star swimmer made history on Saturday morning (Aug 13, Singapore time) when he won the 100m butterfly final in Rio de Janeiro to deliver Singapore's first Olympic gold medal.

The 21-year-old had been granted long-term NS deferment in 2013 till Aug 31 to enable him to focus on preparing for the 2016 Olympic Games.

But Mr Tan said there was a need to "continue to discuss with Mindef on the deferment policies".

Speaking to the media in Rio, he said: "It's important because for some sports you begin to peak and these are important years.

"We've made the exception for Joseph and (Singapore swimmer Quah) Zheng Wen and made some adjustments, and this is something we will continue to go on discussing as more of our athletes begin to push the boundaries on the world stage."

SPH Brightcove Video
Joseph Schooling made history with Singapore's first ever Olympic gold medal. The swimmer clocked 50.39s and broke an Olympic record in the 100m Men's Butterfly at Rio 2016. Back home, Singaporeans celebrated as he swam his way to victory.

While he acknowledged that Schooling's gold medal feat demonstrated the young swimmer's potential, Mr Tan added: "I guess the key is how do you identify the potentials and make those exemptions?

"We will continue to discuss closely with Mindef and see how that space evolves. I wouldn't say that as a result of this there's going to be a change, neither would I say that things will remain static.

"We do want our sportsmen to develop but we do also recognise that there are responsibilities we need to balance as well, so let's see how that space evolves."

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