Schooling's 'very keen to give back to sports' & share experiences with young athletes: Edwin Tong

He said they spoke about mentoring young athletes especially in the areas of mental resilience "on and off" over the years.

Seri Mazliana | April 02, 2024, 10:49 PM



Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said that retired Olympic champion Joseph Schooling's "true legacy really lies in having smashed open the glass ceiling and open up the pathway for other Singaporeans to believe that it is possible to be an Olympic champion".

Tong also revealed that he spoke with Schooling over the weekend, noting that Schooling is "very keen to give back to sports" and share his experiences with younger athletes.

Tong highlighted Schooling's achievements and potential to mentor upcoming athletes in a doorstop interview on Apr. 2, ahead of the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) and the new Sport Excellence Potential (spexPotential) Presentation Ceremony.

The spexScholarship and spexPotential programmes offered by Sport Singapore (SportsSG) provides financial and programmatic support for athletes.

Schooling's legacy inspired Singaporeans

Commenting on Schooling's retirement announcement, Tong highlighted the swimmer's legacy in breaking Olympic records and winning the first Olympic gold medal for Singapore.

Tong considered Schooling's "true legacy" as inspiring Singaporeans to believe that it is possible to be an Olympic champion.

"He obviously knows how to win. He knows how to come back from defeat and from difficulty," he added.

He said that Schooling is "very keen to give back to sports" and it is a topic that Tong and Schooling have been discussing over the years.

Tong said they spoke about potentially mentoring young athletes especially in the areas of mental resilience, as Schooling would like to share his experiences with many younger athletes.

Government support for Singapore athletes

In response to Mothership's question on government efforts to produce more homegrown athletes like Schooling and ensure that his Olympic gold medal win is not a one-off for Singapore, Tong said that the government has evolved and now has a "very systematic approach" to sports.

"To give you two examples, we want to ensure that the base for sports participation is grown as much as we can, so that, obviously, with more participation, the pipeline is stronger. We have more to choose from."

He also noted that more resources are being invested into athletes that show potential to be in high performance and excel in the world stage.

"We want to put as many resources as possible to support them on their journey. Whether it's in sports science, sports medicine, funding or overseas competition."

Tong highlighted that one example of the government's support for such athletes like Singapore badminton player Loh Kean Yew include sending them for overseas training.

He also attributed local track and field athlete Shanti Pereira's success to her exposure of "fiercer competition overseas".

Supporting retired athletes

Tong said that the government will also work closely with Schooling and other athletes to find ways to support retired athletes.

He added that Schooling's experience is something the government wants "to tap into".

"Whether you're a retired athlete or not, what we want to ensure is that your focus is on what you do," he said.

The government will work to find ways to ensure that athletes' "minds are free" from having to deal with issues such as exams and projects in school or employer flexibility at work, while focusing on training.

He said the government is trying to work on a series of programs with businesses and schools to ensure athletes can avoid such distractions.

Top photos by Mothership & Sport Singapore/Facebook