Saturday, August 23, 2008

How many people in Jamaica?

I've been spending a lot of time watching the Olympics. The excitement and entertainment started with the opening ceremony and has not stopped. The highlight for Singapore this year is winning our first medal in 48 years. There was some coffeeshop cynicism about how we found the talents to win and plenty of debate about whether it is right to import talents for the purpose of winning medals. I think what is important is these talents are trained in Singapore and provided the support and 'infrastructure' that allowed them to rise to top. We did not just pay money to bring in adults who were given instant citizenships to represent us. The International Table Tennis Federation passed a new rule this year banning players from switching national allegiance after the age of 21 to prevent countries from relying too much on imported talents.
After trying to win something for many years, we decided that we have import talent because Singapore is "too small" to produce olympic medallists. Singapore came close when Ang Peng Siong held the world best time in 1982 for the 50m freestyle. He was considered the world's fastest swimmer that year but unfortunately the 50m was not an olympic sport until 1986. At the SEA games, we usually win a disproportionate number of swimming medals against more populous nations. The reason for this is we have infrastructure in place before of the efforts of pioneers many years ago who loved the sport. The Chinese Swimming Club which started many years ago at East Coast used to swim in the open ocean and recruit members door to door to join their club. The unforgettable Dr. Chan Ah Kow who was a member trained his children to be top swimmers...Patricia Chan, Mark Chan.

Is it meaningful to import sportsmen to win medals if the interest is waning in a particular sports? The medal we win in a particular event reflects the coaching standards, national support and the passion of our people for that event. If we can only win by importing people, we have to keep importing people if we don't have Singaporeans passionate in that sport. Watching the Jamaicans in the sprint events leaves nobody with any doubt that are many boys and girls in Jamaica who love to sprint, they have world class coaches and all the infrastructure needed to produce world class sprinters. They completely dominated the sprint events in the Beijing Olympics winning more gold medals in these events than the rest of the world combined.
So how many people in Jamaica? 2.8M....if you're determined enough to achieve something, size doesn't matter. The other sport that the Jamaicans are good at is bobsled which is a Winter Olympics event and they won the gold medal in the World Push Bobsled in 2000. There is no snow in Jamaica but the Jamaican bobsled team is not going to let this stop them from doing well. This spirit and determination is captured in the move Cool Runnings and it tells us why they are so good at sports.


Anonymous said...

You've gotta grow your OWN champions. There is no short cut. That's part of nation building process.

Anonymous said...

When one runs a nation like a company, this is what happens. We look at the rules, and work around them. And, we make ourselves believe that we've won a medal. But, let's not kid ourselves.

The fact that there is so much discussion about whether we should accept these china players as Singaporeans is a clear indicator that the spirit of a Singapore-won medal is sorely missly. Any euphoria of winning a sport is spontaneous and natural - not instilled in people after the govt tries and convince them.

The olympics is based on nation-vs-nation. That means one is identified to the flag of his/her nation - one's very own country. To bring in a whole bunch of foreigners eg. the table tennis team - from ladies players, to men players to even coaches! and put them in red jerseys doesn't make Singaporeans identify with them, or vice versa.

I agree that FT can be introduced if the intention is to help lift up the standards of local table tennis players. However, take a look at the sport today. How many Singaporeans play table tennis? Let alone excel in it? Are there any signs of a local amongst the national team? Any yound talent rising? Even after so many years, the sport is still a "China" sport here in Singapore.

I look forward to the day where we'll buy a few Jamaicans. I bet you that we'll see Teo Ser Luck in the stands of the Swiss Alps cheering them on in his red&white winter jacket!

Onlooker said...

2.8mil yet they produce more medal winning athletes than us.
That why we must buy from Jamaica too :)
I'm Proud of Ang Peng Siong too :)

Alfred said...

that Teo Ser Luck fella,fucking yaya..everytime i see his face on telly, feel like vomiting...has a face that invites punches.

Anonymous said...

A related video

Anonymous said...

We lied to ourselves that we are world-class but in fact we have nothing.

Instead of grooming from nothing to something which we can be proud of, we imported that something with monies and repackage it is ours.

When it comes to monies, what is honour, shame, dignity ......etc.

Zhuang Zi have mentioned, this world consist of two things which many people will fight and died for: Money and Reputation.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Tan,
when did you lost your satirical sense ? Are you a imposter ? Give us back the real Lucky Tan !

Anonymous said...

India has 1.1 to 1.2 billion people. How many Olympics medals have they got this time? 1 gold 2 bronze medals. 3 medals!

So what?

They are just medals at the end of the day. Who needs them?

Little.Blue.Boy. said...

Take all the money devoted to winning a medal in the Olympics. Use it to feed, house and educate the poor. Would the community be better off? I think so.

Anonymous said...

For more detailed discussions on these important topics, see:
Singapore Kopitiam

Anonymous said...

To win many Olympic Medal is the import all the gold medal winners at this year olympic games at Beijing to represent Singapore in the next Olympic in 2012 in London. Sure win medals...

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