Olympic-bound swimmers Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen granted NS deferment till 2021

Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and teammate Quah Zheng Wen at the Sea Games on Dec 6, 2019.
PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao

With the Covid-19 pandemic pushing back the Olympic Games to 2021, local swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen will get more time to train for their events.

The pair have been granted extensions of deferment from full-time National Service (NS) by the Armed Forces Council, the Ministry of Defence said in a media statement on August 11.

Their applications, submitted in May, were supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).

Schooling, 25, and Quah, 23, have qualified for the coming Olympic Games in the 100-metre butterfly event and the 100-metre butterfly and backstroke events respectively.

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) will grant extensions of deferment from full-time National Service to Mr Joseph...

Posted by Ministry of Defence, Singapore (MINDEF) on Monday, August 10, 2020

In order to reach their peak form, the swimmers have committed to being "fully focused in their preparations for the Games", Mindef said. They will not undertake any additional activities such as commercial sponsorships.

Should the Olympic Games be cancelled, they will be scheduled for enlistment.

Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen share a light moment after training ahead of the swimming competition at the Rio 2016 Olympics Games. PHOTO: Reuters

Both had previously deferred full-time NS to train for the 2016 Olympics, with Schooling winning Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the men's 100m butterfly finals in Rio that year.

Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen previously described the pair as "exceptional sportsmen" when they were first granted deferment to train for 2020 Olympics and added that Singapore had two medal prospects in the Olympics for the first time.

To be eligible for deferment from national service, applicants such as sportsmen have to be potential medal winners for Singapore at top-tier international competitions like the Olympic Games, Mindef explained.

They will have to show why deferment is necessary for them to compete successfully at these competitions and bring national pride to Singapore. Each case is assessed in consultation with MCCY.