This is why we can’t have nice things

Unruly crowds and accidents mar Joseph Schooling's victory parade, one caused by the swimmer himself

And this is why we can't have nice things.

When it was announced last week that a victory parade for Singapore's first Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling would be held, some were quick to criticise the move as insensitive to Singaporeans who were still competing in Rio.

As someone commented online: "Why don't they wait for all the Singaporean Olympic athletes to return then do it together? They did not put in any less effort to compete for Singapore.

"Oops, I forgot we are a society that focuses on meritocracy. No medal or glory, no talk."

But did many care? Thousands didn't as they thronged the parade route and pit stops such that crowd control became a problem.

A parent at the Marine Terrace market pit stop recounted: "My kids and I were there and we left angrily. There were many kids standing at the front and the adults were the ones pushing everyone.

"Luckily, I held on to my kids. If not, you would see many kids and people being stepped over!"

And you thought the Pokemon Go crowds were crazy.

Even Schooling couldn't manage more than a mouthful of his beloved fried carrot cake because of the mob.

Did anyone eat his leftover food and maybe have a taste of his DNA?

The parade itself, with the swimmer on an open-top double-decker bus, also caused two road accidents, one of which the Schooling confessed to being responsible for.

He told "So I was eating a pear in the bus downstairs. I was trying to make funny faces at this lady with her two kids through the glass and they're freaking out. They're like 'oh my god!'

"So this lady tries to get her kids to wave at me and she has her steering wheel turned towards the bus. So when the bus starts moving, she gasses it and her car goes straight into our bus and rams, T-bones our bus.

"And I was like 'oh my god!' That just happened. I just caused an accident."

(For those unfamiliar with the University of Texas student's Americanisms, "gassing it" means stepping on the accelerator and "T-bone" in this case doesn't mean the steak but a vehicle colliding with another at a right angle.)

Someone even questioned the wisdom of putting Schooling on top of an open-top bus: "The weather is so hot lately. Are you guys trying to 'barbecue' him?"

Well, he does look pretty tasty.

And on top of all that, some were unhappy that the parade was on a Thursday: "So kiasu… want public to support but conduct it on week day. Why no authority to ask companies to give half-day leave to line the street to support a historical event. Really shameful!"

And this is why we can't have nice things like a victory parade.


When on Monday, Parliament "moved a motion" to congratulate Schooling, it also had the chance to move a motion to declare Thursday (or any other day) a public holiday to honour him even more.

But it passed the Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill instead.

Safe to say, more people would have preferred a Let's Have A National Holiday Because We Just Won Our First Olympic Gold Medal Bill.

There wouldn't be a seven-hour debate over that.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin probably spoiled the market by suggesting a National Schooling Day where "everyone will have to go to school" because he couldn't resist the pun.

And this is why we can't have nice things like an extra public holiday.

We can only envy Fiji, which did declare a public holiday after winning its first Olympic medal by beating Great Britain in the rugby sevens final to get the gold.

That is, if we can find Fiji on the map.

But even though we didn't get a holiday, McDonald's offered six free chicken McNuggets to the first 50 customers at all its outlets (excluding iFly, Resorts World Sentosa, Lido, Gardens by The Bay and institutional stores) on Monday from 11am.

Why free McNuggets, you ask, and not, say, a free Fillet-O-Fish? Since, you know, Schooling swims like a fish.

According to McDonald's, it was "to celebrate our hero and golden boy Joseph Schooling, on winning his own golden nugget at Rio".

So now you know why athletes bite their medals when they pose for photographs.

Ummm… because the medals resemble chicken nuggets?

They should start giving out curry sauce with those McMedals.

But McDonald's and other companies that are promoting themselves while congratulating Schooling are not allowed to do this.

The Singapore National Olympic Council told The New Paper: "While we celebrate Joseph's victory, we must also stand guided by the rules and guidelines protecting the assets and marks of the Games.

"Henceforth, we would like to advise commercial entities to comply with these rules and not infringe or exploit the assets for commercial purposes."

And this is why we can't have nice things like free McNuggets.

Perhaps everyone took Schooling a little too literally when he said to the crowd welcoming him home at Changi Airport last Monday: "This is not for me. It is for all of you."

Too bad the International Olympic Council isn't as generous.

But on his part, Schooling has been true to his word, sharing the greatest moment of his life with all Singaporeans on the victory parade and elsewhere last week with a ready and winning smile.

And that's a nice thing we do have.

Tags: S M Ong, Olympics and column

Guardiola making his mark with City

Like Mourinho, Guardiola's EPL stint is off to a flyer

FLYING START: Sergio Aguero (above, right) celebrates scoring Man City's first goal.


(Bojan Krkic 49-pen)


(Sergio Aguero 27-pen, 36, Nolito 86, 90+5)

Two games into his Manchester City reign, Pep Guardiola is already shattering myths.

Cutting it in the wind and rain at the unforgiving surroundings of Stoke City's notorious stadium yesterday, he sent out a strong statement of intent.

With the 4-1 win, Guardiola has quickly set about defying the doubters who believed he could not handle the pressure that comes with vying for the English Premier League title.

Riding their luck one week and rampant the next; continuity has yet to become a staple of City under Guardiola's tenure, but Sergio Aguero is certain to aid the smoothing of that transition.

It has remained business as usual for the Argentinian under his former La Liga nemesis after taking his tally to six goals in three games as Stoke were comfortably seen off.

Anticipation is already building for next month's Manchester Derby as Aguero's duel with his opposite number Zlatan Ibrahimovic is threatening to live up to its increased hype.

Manchester United may boast an evergreen goal magnet in the form of the mercurial Swede but, anything he can do, Aguero is already more than capable of emulating.

The footballing world may marvel at Ibrahimovic's moments of brilliance, but the prospect of a see-saw battle for supremacy ensuing with Aguero threatens to provide a greater sub-plot than the renewal of Guardiola's long-standing feud with Jose Mourinho.


With a goal apiece on the opening weekend followed by a brace each this weekend, there is little separating the pair following near-identical starts to the new campaign.

A Champions League qualifier had allowed Aguero to indulge in some leisurely shooting practice, but it was the Bet365 Stadium which provided him with a moment of redemption.

Successive penalty misses against Steaua Bucharest in midweek had suggested that the Argentinian's prolific powers were finally on the wane following an emphatic run which had seen him record an average of 29 goals across the three previous seasons.

That weight of expectancy has empowered him far more than hindered, as he showed with a two-goal haul yesterday that ensured City remained atop the EPL, just ahead of United.

United continue to attract the attention and fanfare with players who live up to their self-proclaimed status as the glamour club of English football.

Yet it is City who currently have the upper hand with a largely understated need to court the spotlight, with Guardiola's side with an embarrassment of attacking riches.

Kevin de Bruyne's influence shows no signs of lessening as his floated free-kick found the head of Aguero to double the advantage yesterday.

Raheem Sterling may have struggled to banish the inconsistencies of his debut season at the Etihad Stadium, as he regularly fluffed his lines when gifted goalscoring opportunities.

But what the England international lacked in goal scoring finesse, he was able to compensate with in a developed sense of on-field selflessness, notably teeing up Nolito for his second of the game in the final seconds.

That collective harmony is a far cry from the seemingly self-orientated set-up at Old Trafford, which currently sees three heavyweights of European football vying for its limelight.

Individually, Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba are able to excel at the peak of their abilities, but the pressure of them forming a functional and blossoming triumvirate in time for the Sept 10 showdown with City is well and truly on.

Police probe listening device in All Blacks hotel room

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United finding their groove under Mourinho

It's early days, but Mourinho's United are making a loud statement

STAR TURNS: Manchester United's marquee men Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) and Paul Pogba live up to their box-office billing against Southampton.


(Zlatan Ibrahimovic 36, 52-pen)


Evolution, not revolution, insisted a smiling, contented Jose Mourinho after Manchester United won their second straight match of the new EPL season yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Mourinho has tried to warn supporters not to expect too much too soon but no-one who watched their 2-0 win over Southampton can fail to have been impressed by how the self-styled Special One is already making his mark in what has always been his dream job.

Not all United fans, let it be said, were happy when Mourinho, who has a history of picking fights with just about anyone when things don't go his way, was appointed as Louis van Gaal's successor. 

How would his outspoken, often disruptive style fit with United's global status as one of the three or four most iconic teams on the planet? 

Would there be enough flair and creativity on show to satisfy the fans after so many dismal years by the club's own high standards?

Judging by their first couple of outings, the omens look good. 

United hardly moved into third gear against the Saints and, as with all Mourinho teams, they were happy to concede possession in the full knowledge that they possessed the tools to get in front.

And once they did that, they slammed the door shut.

Gone, seemingly, is the cautious, disjointed, punchless approach so often displayed under van Gaal. 

Instead, each and every one of Mourinho's players seems comfortable on the ball, working to a team ethic, never panicking.

Of course it's early days. Of course in the coming weeks and months, there will be times when Mourinho explodes with his trademark petulance and blames everyone but himself when his game plan fails.

But the signs, from what we have seen so far, look ominous for the rest of the EPL.

United may not yet be the finished article.  They are a work in progress and, at times, Southampton exposed their lack of pace and need for greater defensive midfield cover.

But they are getting the ball forward far more quickly and look  more robust, both physically and mentally.

It helps, of course, to have unlimited funds and the world's most expensive footballer at your disposal.

As debuts go, Paul Pogba could not have asked for a more successful display, marking the start of his  second spell at Old Trafford with an indefatigable box-to-box performance that had the pundits positively purring with admiration.

On another day Pogba, who made several surging runs and had more touches and more passes in the opposing half than any teammate, would have received the Man-of-the-Match award, but it was little surprise when that accolade went to another of the stellar, box-office signings.

Anyone who thought Zlatan Ibrahimovic might not cut it in the EPL at the age of 34 would have surely already changed that assessment.

The Swede's two goals - the first a bullet header from Wayne Rooney's cross, the second a pinpoint penalty into the corner - made him an instant hero with the Old Trafford faithful and illustrated just how big an asset he will be over the coming months.

Ibrahimovic has now scored 41 goals in his last 31 league matches, a remarkable record going back to last season with Paris St Germain. 


His self-confidence has never been in question. Indeed, like Mourinho, he has an arrogant, some might say conceited, streak about him.

But arrogance is often allied to rare talent.

While there is no doubting the rapport between Pogba and Ibrahimovic, it is a defender who may end up being Mourinho's most astute purchase in the desperate quest for the EPL title. 

Eric Bailly already looks well worth the £30 million ($53m) that brought him to Old Trafford from Villarreal, displaying a composure and fearlessness sorely missed over recent seasons.

Money, of course, doesn't always buy you instant success. Neither do celebrity and fame always equate to Premier League points.

There are those who can't wait for Mourinho to fail, just as he did second time round at Chelsea. But he has a burning point to prove.

"We have brought back some of the United culture," said the Portuguese pointedly after yesterday's victory.

He will know, however, that with most of United's rivals also having spent big, it will be very much a marathon, not a sprint.

Good turnout for New Balance run

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Local boxers to raise funds for charity

Local boxers to raise funds for Parkinson's Society Singapore

"It’s great to use boxing as a platform to create positive awareness for Parkinson’s. I could never imagine what Parkinson’s sufferers have to go through, but this is a small way for me to give back." - Ridhwan Ahmad (above, left) and two other top local boxers - Rafi Majid (above, right) and Nurshahidah Roslie will take on fighters from the Philippines at the SFC event

Boxing for a good cause.

That's what Ridhwan Ahmad and fellow local professional boxers intend to do at a Singapore Fighting Championship (SFC) event at the Ground Theatre at *Scape in Orchard this evening.

Dubbed "Singapore versus Philippines", the event will pit 28-year-old Ridhwan and two other top local boxers - Rafi Majid and Nurshahidah Roslie - against fighters from the Philippines.

Each ticket to the event, which begins at 6.30pm, costs $25, with $5 going to Parkinson's Society Singapore (PSS).

Ridhwan, a three-time South-east Asia (SEA) Games bronze medallist, will take on Jonel Borbon. 

Late bloomer Rafi, who made his professional debut only this year at the age of 36, will take on Arnold Garcia.

Shahidah, who is Singapore's first female pro boxer and won the Universal Boxing Organisation (UBO) Female Intercontinental super-featherweight title two months ago, will take on Krisna Limbaga.

SFC promoter Arvind Lalwani said: "What we want people to know is that people with Parkinson's can try out boxing or kickboxing to help them regain their motor skills.

"As for the money going to PSS, at the end of the day, we're not out to make money.

"My goal from this event is still the same as with all SFC events - to promote local boxing, and in this case, WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organisations) kickboxing."

Added Ridhwan: "It's great to use boxing as a platform to create positive awareness for Parkinson's.

"I could never imagine what Parkinson's sufferers have to go through, but this is a small way for me to give back.

"Fights always become more meaningful when we fight for something bigger than just ourselves."

In addition to the three local pro boxers, former Ultimate Fighting Championship figher Will "The Kill" Chope will make his pro boxing debut.

The American, who is based in Singapore, will face Filipino Gilbert Donasales, who has 16 fights under his belt.

The card will also feature two K1 kickboxing fights, with Terrence Teo and Tiffany Teo featuring.

With no titles on the line, Lalwani says this event is a good tune-up for Terrence, who will represent Singapore at the Asian Kickboxing Championships in South Korea next month.

He added that if all three local pro boxers can continue to keep their good momentum - each undefeated in three pro bouts - they might find themselves in the mix for a regional World Boxing Organisation (WBO) or World Boxing Association (WBA) titles within six months.

Ridhwan, however, has one eye on a specific opponent in the near future.

"I heard Nor Rizan wants to make a comeback," he said, referring to the 35-year-old, who boxed six times professionally with the last bout at Marina Bay Sands in 2012.

"It will be great for local boxing fans if we fight each other.

"He has a huge following so hopefully, a fight between us can give local boxing the attention it needs.

"There have been talks between our promoters and I feel the best should fight the best.

"On social media, he calls himself 'world champ' and his fans call him 'world champ', so I want to fight this 'world champ'."

Tags: Boxing

$15,000 raised for Rainbow centre

CHARITY MATCH: Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Ms Jessica Tan, Member of Parliament and president of Netball Singapore, and Mr Philip Yuen, CEO of Deloitte SEA and Singapore, presenting the cheque to Ms Tan Sze Wee, executive director, Rainbow Centre Singapore, at the Deloitte Pesta Sukan yesterday.

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Tags: charity

Finol puts trauma behind to strike gold

Venezuelan endures death of sister and trainer to win country's first boxing medal in 32 years

Yoel Finol.
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