1. Swimming star Joseph Schooling, 18, was recently granted deferment from National Service until 2016.What is your message for parents of other young, talented athletes over NS?
Minister Wong: We have developed a high performance sports system... and we are addressing all the potential stumbling blocks in the development of an athlete.
We know NS is one issue and if indeed an athlete is making good progress and we see that he has the potential to reach international standards, we will make the case to Mindef and support their application for deferment, like we did for Joseph Schooling.
We are very happy Mindef has agreed.
They have agreed in the past, so this is not the first time. It will be more effective now because we have a high performance support system to track, identify and develop our athletes.
2. What are other potential stumbling blocks and how do you plan to address them?
The other two important components for our system which we are working on are a more flexible education scheme... and a work-play scheme.
For the former, we are working with a few tertiary institutions so that the students can study and at the same time train full-time.
Similarly, we are looking at a workplay scheme where we will find employers who will be prepared to employ athletes and also provide an athlete friendly workplace environment, to give them time to train.