I was glad to hear that Joseph Schooling's request for deferment from national service was granted ("Schooling allowed to defer NS to focus on Olympics"; Tuesday). The time will be of great benefit to his development in swimming.
It would be great for Singapore sports if such an exemption is extended to all national or potential national athletes.
An athlete's career is very short and athletes have to make the most of their youth in order to maximise their success in the sporting arena.
This makes youth development extremely important as it prepares them early to compete in sports. Any disruption will result in a loss of valuable training and development time, which may put Singapore athletes at a disadvantage against their international counterparts.
Unfortunately, due to NS commitments, many athletes are prevented from either training or participating in competitions for the country.
For instance, the LionsXII faced considerable difficulty at the start of the season this year as many of its players were unable to participate in matches due to NS commitments.
It was also for the same reason that Hariss Harun, one of the Singapore national football team's key players, was unable to participate in international matches, compromising the strength of the team.