SINGAPORE - Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling has been allowed to defer enlisting in national service (NS) till the 2020 Olympic Games, Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen announced on Monday (Aug 15).
Dr Ng said in a statement that the Armed Forces Council has approved the swimmer's request for an extension of his deferment in order to train for and compete in the next Olympic Games which will be held at Tokyo in 2020.
His request was supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
Schooling won Singapore's first ever Olympic gold medal last Saturday (Aug 13) in the men's 100m butterfly finals. He was also the first Singaporean to establish an Olympic record.
"These are spectacular achievements which have brought national glory to Singapore and filled our entire nation with pride," Dr Ng said.
The 21-year-old swimmer had previously deferred full-time NS in 2013 to train for the 2016 Olympics.
Dr Ng added that from 2013 to the 2016 Olympics, "Schooling has been exemplary in fulfilling the raison d'etre for his deferment - he trained hard and met all performance milestones on his way to Olympic glory."
In 2013, Dr Ng said in Parliament that requests for NS deferment may be granted "in exceptional circumstances to individual sportsmen, who are assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games and bring national pride for the country."
Individuals will have to show why deferment is necessary for them to train full-time and compete successfully at international competitions. Each case will be assessed individually in consultation with MCCY.
According to the Minstry of Defence, there are four other Singapore athletes who were granted deferment from full-time NS:
- Ang Peng Siong, Swimming, 1980 to 1986
- Peter Leong, Swimming, 1996 to 1999
- Sng Ju Wei, Swimming, 1998 to 2003
- Maximilian Soh Khyan Tat, Sailing, 2007 to 2008