RONALD LEE: So our table tennis golden girls came home empty-handed. On the other hand, our man of the moment Joseph Schooling is getting all the praise because he’s really damn good, and also because he’s a born and bred Singaporean (though some argue he’s born Singapore and bred in the US).
Amidst all the ungracious comments directed at our table tennis players, I’d like to add my two cents worth – you don’t have to disrespect out national players even though you hate the policy which brought them here.
While there’s much unhappiness generated against the “quick gains so import FTs” policy, let’s remember that our players didn’t have a say in any of this. As professionals, they merely received a good offer and accepted it with open arms. Wouldn’t you, if out of the blue great perks fell on your lap when you were down and out?
It’s not like these players didn’t do their best. From Jing Jun Hong, to Li Jiawei, to Feng Tianwei, they’re all up there amongst the world’s top players. Feng was seeded 4th in the world, before this latest defeat to the ruthless though pixie-like Japanese.
These players took the money, took the benefits, trained hard and did a commendable job. It’s not liked they slacked off while sipping the honey. And they this while wearing Singapore’s colours. We shouldn’t take our anger our on them.
I would be urging the government to relook its recruitment policy. I would ask that we spend millions less on glitzy showpiece infrastructure and plow that into grooming locals from young. I wouldn’t go over budget by hundreds of millions because each million gives us a shot at another Olympic medal, won by a home-grown talent. I would make sure our support infrastructure is adequate so that parents would be more willing to allow their children to venture into the “risky” world of sports, where careers are short and success is as guaranteed as a coin-flip.
For those who aren’t happy, it’s the system you should be directing your anger at, not the ladies. You can curse and swear at them, or call them “FT trash” or “China B team” or anything else, but so what? It’s the system that needs change. We should always throw our support behind our nations’ sportsmen, even as we push for change in the circumstances in which they are groomed.