Give due credit to foreign-born S'pore athletes

I hope the hard-earned victories of our national shuttlers and paddlers have vindicated the decision of our national sports associations to bring foreign-born sports talent into our national teams ("Shuttlers pick themselves up to land unexpected bronze" and "S'pore glue on crown holds"; yesterday).

Of course, we would love to have local-born athletes mount the victory podium. But the reality is that athletes like paddler Isabelle Li and shuttlers Vanessa Neo and Derek Wong, who are willing and able to train almost full-time, are hard to come by.

Sports training is tough and the hours are long. Careers can be short-lived and there is no guarantee of success.

Our society focuses on academic pursuits and the corporate rat race. This, plus the many other distractions in life, serves to discourage young Singaporeans from taking up careers in sports.

So let's not begrudge our foreign-born athletes their places in our national teams and, indeed, in our hearts.

It was tough enough for them to uproot themselves from their comfort zones in their native countries to make their new homes here.

They then went on to earn their stripes as Singaporeans by training hard daily and then fighting their guts out at competitions for our nation.

This was amply demonstrated by the courageous and spirited performance of Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari in their epic 29-27 win in the second game of Singapore's deciding women's doubles match against their Indian rivals for the Commonwealth Games mixed team bronze.

At that moment when match point was won and all the Singapore players and officials dashed onto the court to huddle together in an unbridled display of pride and joy, it did not matter where the shuttlers were born - they were all Singaporeans.

Edwin Pang

This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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