C’Wealth Games: Hail the Singapore spirit

C’Wealth Games: Hail the Singapore spirit
At the Incheon Asian Games, Schooling became the first male Singapore swimmer to win Asian Games gold since 1982 when he won the men's 100 metres butterfly.

All of us falter at some point.

A student may fail an exam, a businessman will just miss out on closing a deal, a journalist sometimes misses a deadline. And the goal must always be to bounce back.

Which is why we should identify with the exploits of Teo Shun Xie, Joseph Schooling, Jasmine Ser, Zhan Jian, Yu Mengyu and the national badminton team at the Commonwealth Games.

Team Singapore athletes have been through highs and lows in Glasgow, Scotland. They have won gold, silver and bronze, and the common thread in the seven medals won so far has been their remarkable resilience.

Teo was down and out in the 10m air pistol final. She was sixth out of eight shooters and was on the brink of elimination on a couple of occasions.

But the 26-year-old showed nerves of steel to fire a string of high scores and climb her way back to gold.

Teammate Ser was among the leaders right from the qualification stage through to the final in the 50m rifle three-positions event.

However, the two-time Commonwealth Games champion had earlier tanked in the 10m air rifle and 50m rifle prone events.

And the pressure had just cranked up in the final event of the shooting programme at the Games, with the wind picking up and the roar of the partisan home crowd growing even louder as Scotland's challenger Jen McIntosh stood armed next to her.

Ser lost her lead after the prone series, but struck back in the standing series to wrest gold.

In badminton, Singapore's mixed team had the perfect opportunity to slay Malaysia's Goliath, but allowed one of the sports giants to reassert itself and win 3-2 in an epic semi-final clash.

So near, yet so far.

Much maligned for months after a string of poor results, Singapore's shuttlers in the mixed team event could have folded, but they regrouped, refocused and pulled out a 3-2 win over favoured India to take bronze.

The Singaporean paddlers were touted as the surest bet to bring home a sackful of golds.

Leading roles

In the men's and women's team events, No. 2s Zhan and Yu were handed leading roles.

They both wobbled initially, suffering shock defeats by rank outsiders from India and Nigeria in their respective singles matches.

They would have been hurt badly, even embarrassed, but Zhan - even with a pulled thigh muscle - and Yu dug deep and scored key victories in the men's and women's team final, over England and Malaysia, respectively, to add two more golds to Singapore's tally.

And Singapore will never forget Schooling's performance in his first Commonwealth Games.

He had set three national records in the 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay, but many doubters remained because he still hadn't won a medal, and even finished last in his pet event, the 200m butterfly final.

The swimmer admitted later that the younger version of him would have given up the chase for a historic swimming medal.

But schooled by the hard knocks, the 19-year-old swam the race of his life to win silver in the 100m butterfly, his time of 51.69 seconds ranked as the world's fourth-fastest this year.

And Schooling became the first Singaporean to win a swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games level.

There was more joyful tidings yesterday as gymnast Hoe Wah Toon also delivered an unexpected bronze in the men's vault event.

In such pressure-cooker situations, especially after hitting a hurdle, these athletes picked themselves up and bounced back in rousing fashion.

Scotland's Commonwealth Games are nearly over. Our world-class paddlers will mine more gold medals before the Games end tomorrow.

And our athletes have turned in some inspirational displays in the course of the Games and, with National Day around the corner, they've reminded us all of the Singapore spirit.

This has been my most stressful tournament... Five years ago, I probably would have given up after two bad days of swimming, so I think this silver medal is a testimony to how much I have matured. I didn't give up, and I fought through... and I did it.

- Men's 100m butterfly silver-medallist Joseph Schooling.

This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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