JOSEPH SCHOOLING’S epic win at the 2016 Rio Olympics after beating three of the world’s top butterfliers, including the legendary Michael Phelps, lit a bonfire in Singapore.
It fired up the young and old, from ordinary folks and politicians to Cabinet Ministers and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and they openly expressed their jubilation in social media, newspapers and on television.
It was big enough for Parliament to move a motion recognising Schooling’s record-breaking achievement yesterday and the Ministry of Defence to extend his National Service commitment until after the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Big businesses did not miss a beat and paid big bucks to place advertisements to honour the 21-year-old swimmer and offered discounts on their products.
The buzz of the Schooling euphoria will linger on in the country for quite a while.
But for how long?
A FLASH IN THE PAN?
Will Schooling end up as another Anthony Nesty, who beat a swimming giant in similar fashion, touching the wall ahead of the United States’ Matt Biondi by one-hundredths of a second at the 1988 Seoul Olympics?
Nesty’s gold in South Korea still remains Suriname’s one and only Olympic gold medal to date. No other world-beating athlete emerged from that country.
If Singapore is to seize and build upon Schooling’s win, then his story must go beyond Rio de Janeiro. Continue reading here
First published in The New Paper on August 16, 2016