SEA Games: S'pore high performance sport system takes into account national service, says SSI chief

Joseph Schooling on May 19 called for a national dialogue on managing expectations of athletes serving their NS. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

HANOI - Singapore Sport Institute (SSI) chief Su Chun Wei stressed on Sunday (May 22) that the country's high performance system takes into account and supports athletes under all conditions, including those undergoing national service (NS).

He added: "The Singapore high performance system takes into account Team Singapore athletes' life stage, of course NS is one of them. Our support philosophy takes NS into account, we very much want to support them and integrate them into the training and support plan."

He was responding to a question about comments made by national swimmer Joseph Schooling, who on Wednesday called for a national dialogue on managing expectations of athletes serving their NS.

Su was at a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel wrapping up the Republic's performance in the Vietnamese capital.

Acknowledging that NS is a part of the Singapore system, he insisted that the country's high performance system will "continue to support our athletes under all conditions".

He also expressed confidence in retaining top sporting talents, after it was brought up that athletes such as 21-year-old shooter Amanda Mak, who called time on her sporting career after winning a gold medal in her debut at the Hanoi Games.

Su said: "Retaining talent is a multi-dimensional issue. First of all, we all desire to keep talents going for as long as their ambitions go. We are confident that our support plans and ability to support athletes from younger age to when they're older is there.

"So the question is, through conversations and honest engagement to determine whether they have appetite to go on and do more. This is a key success factor - we will continue to hold these conversations with the teams."

He pointed to the examples of swimmer Amanda Lim and billiard player Peter Gilchrist, both of whom had been gunning for their seventh consecutive titles in their respective sports.

Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan also suggested how national sports associations (NSA) can learn from the practices of other associations such as the Singapore Bowling Federation, whose athletes such as sisters Cherie and Daphne Tan have had long careers.

He said: "I guess for some of the NSAs they can perhaps learn and find solutions to this...We have to come out with a model where if they don't leave the sports they love, perhaps they can still carry on."

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