Friday, August 15, 2008

An Olympic medal for Singapore, finally.


Finally, the 48 year-old drought is over. After Singapore's female table tennis team who comprises of Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Feng Tianwei, beat South Korea in the semi-finals today, Singapore will be assured with at least a silver medal. The team will be facing either Hong Kong or China (depending on the outcome of their semi-final match) on this coming Sunday.


What's the big deal?

Singapore last scored in Olympics in the 1960's Games held in Rome. Weightlifter Tan Howe Liang brought back a silver medal and have been a beacon of hope for aspiring Singaporean athletes ever since.

With only 4.3 million inhabitants and out of which only around 2 million are citizens, the odds of doing well in the international sports arena is never on our side. In fact, our sports teams have struggled even in regional competitions with the likes of Indonesia and Thailand dominating the scene.

Li Jiawei missed clinching a bronze medal after crashing out in fight for 3rd & 4th placing against South Korea's Kim Kyung Ah. I recalled that watching the match with my family and we were stunned when Li lost the game point. That was our closest chance ever of securing a medal.


The Controversy

If you've not noticed already, the entire women tennis team (its coach inclusive) is imported directly from China, the sporting powerhouse. The original premise was to bring in accomplished players who weren't given a chance to compete in their native country due to intense competition and hopefully, these naturalized citizens will help nurture local players.

However, it seemed that local players have some difficulty matching up to these 'foreign imports'. In fact, other than table tennis, Singapore have been actively importing athletes for other sports as well (i.e. badminton, athletics). As a result, there have been some grumblings that it will be meaningless even if these athletes win medals.

I beg to differ. London would never maintain her position as a financial hub if not for its open policy towards foreign expertise. Likewise, United States would never have been an economic (and thus military) superpower if not for her liberal immigration policy.

Singapore, which has just celebrated its 43rd birthday, is a relatively young state. Do we seriously think that we can still be relevant in the following decades if we maintain a strict immigration/labor policy?

Having said that, I do hope that the success today will provide the motivation for potential medalists in the future. Let's not wait for another 48 years.

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25 comments:

My Bug Life said...

Wow..congrats to S'pore..on the way to an Olympic medal!

FĂ«anor said...

CK: Nice one, man. As an Indian - a sporting minnow as small as Singapore - I entirely share your glee at your first medal! At the last Olympics, India got its first individual medal - a silver in one of the shooting contests. That was reason for tumultous celebration. This time, we got one gold. People are dying in their excitement :-) I don't expect that we'll win any more medals of any colour, though.

C K said...

@my bug life,
Hey, you've changed your blogger photo!

Yep, was really excited even though I'm halfway round the globe. :)

C K said...

@feanor,
India is an upcoming superpower that is likely to share the center stage with China in the next few decades. I won't be too worried about her potential in the sporting arena if I were you. :)

I read about Indian's gold in one of the blogs as I was surfing online. I must say that the author was absolutely delirious with joy.

I'm now keeping my fingers crossed that the Singaporean team will beat the Chinese juggernaut.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations my Peng You from Singapore.
Us Xilarens have sucked big time in these Olympics but our ZHONGGUOREN HOSTS HAVE DONE FAB..I am hen gauxing that Singapore got a medal...tai hao le!

yanjiaren's blog. said...

Sorry duibuqi but the anonymous one is me..I don't know how I came out anonymous lol.

BK said...

Yes after 48 years! The wait is finally over. The different now is only gold or silver. Basically you could expect the amount of coverage they get over the media. While watching the match yesterday, I couldn't help but clapping to the Korean's strong fighting spirit especially the last match. Park Mi Young defenses in the game over Feng Tianwei was stunning. True Olympic spirit!

shanewei said...

i agree. and congratulations to Singapore. i'm not from s'pore but i have live there long enough to be one. let's get that gold medal!!

lina said...

Congratulations Singapore!

WebbieStuffs said...

paying out or buying out someone else is not new. That is what you call outsourcing...if you have money to do it, why not? It is up to your to celebrate your winnings since your money is your effort. You are right about the US and London.

Congrtulations Singapore. Very good article.

Webloglearner said...

congratulations singapore. it is a big achievement!

Better Interpersonal Communication said...

Nice post. I agree about that foreign talent part. Its inevitable in a changing globalized world.

capybara said...

I told you to keep the faith. Congratulations to Singapore on winning a medal

SheR. said...

Hooray for Singapore team!!!
Go for Gold!!!

Dutchie said...

Aside from this medal, Sg has many achievements which I'm very very proud of ! People I've met outside Sg have but the highest regards for tiny island - my hubby inclusive :)
Need I say more ?

eastcoastlife said...

Hope it will be gold and more gold!!

kyh said...

Look out for Malaysia too! It's either gold or silver for the badminton men's single!

C K said...

@yanjairen,
Thanks for that, I'm just hopping for the unlikely outcome what they will triump over China. lol


@bk,
You know what? I missed that match and the worse thing is that there's no live telecast for the finals as well! Argh!


@shanwei,
The irony is that the Singaporean team will be facing the very people that they have been training with when they were back in China. Just hope that their nerves won't ge the better of them.


@lina,
Thanks!!


@webbiestuffs,
But the truth is there are Singaporeans who are adamant that it's only right that those bringing home medals must be born and bred in Singapore itself. To me, that's a bunch of... crap. :)


@webloglearner,
Thanks!! A gold will be a bigger achievement. :)


@wenbin,
I guess after a while, most if not all major cities will be somewhat cosmopolitian in terms of population. The trick is the ability to keep them in one place as these people are somewhat mobile.


@capybara,
Thanks pal! Britons have it great in this Games as well. My eyes were glued to the rowing event. :)


@sher,
So any fireworks going over at a particular flat in Croatia? :p


@dutchie,
Really? I think many also have reservations about our perceived authoritarian system as well. Oh well, you can't have it all, can you?


@ecl,
Oh yeah! I'm sure you're be glued to the tv set during the finals.


@kyh,
Yeah! Bandminton is also one of my favorite sports (to watch). Is it Indonesia that Malaysia will be facing off? Haha, it's SEA Games all over again, isn't it?

Deb said...

We have a little TV in the lobby, outside our office - to keep our clients occupied while they waited to be service, and on fri afternoon, several of us didnt do much work. Boss went out to watch the game, so did a few others.

And they kept coming back to the office to report - oh, we won this round! We lost this round! We won this round! My goodness... it was like a see-saw.

SheR. said...

No fireworks. It's illegal, remember? :P

kyh said...

It's China's Lin Dan. :P

lina said...

quite sad that Malaysian didn't get the gold medal for badminton in men's single. :-(

waitingkitty said...

Foreign import or not, as long as they hang Singapore's flag up there when they win the medal, I am delirious. Sliver is good enough. :D Congratulations Singapore!

C K said...

@deb,
Hmm... wouldn't it be a little tad odd if the client is watching tv together with your boss and your colleague? Haha...


@sher,
Oww... come on... We all know you live on the edge. I'm sure you have a stash somewhere...


@kyh,
That'll be tough isn't it? I mean, seriously, I don't expect the Singapore team (foreign imports or not) to triump over the Chinese team, which is playing a home game...


@lina,
Cheer up! It's really the process and not the end result. Who am I kidding? But hey, he did put up a great fight though.


@waitingkitty,
So did you watch the game live? I couldn't manage to get to view it as BBC doesn't show it live. Well, table tennis is not exactly the British national sport. :p

xiaocangshu said...

I remember the New Paper writing that Mr. Tan was an immigrant himself; he came to Singapore from Swatow with his family when he was 2.

So technically, under the "only medals won by athletes born in Singapore count" argument, we won't have won any medals at the Olympics.