Learn from SEA Games, start building for future

As the SEA Games draw to a close, I congratulate the organising committee for putting up the best show on earth, as well as our athletes for their stunning performances and achievements.

Many of our athletes have brought honour and glory to our small nation. Our swimmers, water-polo players, sailors, bowlers, shooting teams and others continue to lift the bar and outperform themselves.

Their astounding performance is a great present for Singapore's 50th birthday ("Gold medal haul for Team S'pore rises to 82"; yesterday).

I was particularly impressed by our hockey team. Although they eventually lost to Malaysia, they fought with gusto until the last whistle, only to be denied a win during the penalty shoot-out.

I never knew we had a national hockey team, let alone one that played so well. They have won me over as a fan.

In contrast, our Young Lions were an utter disappointment.

Despite all the overseas training and support they have been given, they lacked fire in the belly, skills, stamina and organisation. They were playing kampung football.

Not unexpectedly, our paddlers continue to bring us glory with a near clean sweep of the gold medals.

But, what the future looks like is a worry. We relied on Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu to beat two Thai teenagers.

In a few years, the pair of Thai teens will mature to become better players, whereas no Singaporean youngsters will be able to take them on.

In not exposing our young local talents to such competitions, we have mortgaged our future for short-term gains.

I hope the various national sports associations will take time to reflect on the lessons from this SEA Games and start building for the future.

Patrick Tan Siong Kuan

This article was first published on June 16, 2015.
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