Zheng Wen gets NS deferment to focus on Olympics
Quah Zheng Wen has taken a huge step towards his Olympic dream after the Armed Forces Council (AFC) granted him deferment from full-time National Service until Aug 31, 2016.
He becomes only the second athlete - and the second swimmer - to be granted deferment from NS to allow them to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
In October 2013, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced in Parliament that swimmer Joseph Schooling, now 20, would be exempted from NS until the end of August 2016 to allow him to focus on training for the 2016 Olympic Games.
A statement released on Tuesday (July 7) by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said Quah, 18, had "satisfied the conditions for deferment of exceptional sportsmen who can win honour for Singapore, as his recent performances were better than the most recent Olympic Games’ qualifying times in the 200m Butterfly".
It continued: "The AFC has therefore decided to grant deferment to Mr Quah from full-time NS till Aug 31 2016, for him to train and participate in the 2016 Olympic Games.
"The AFC would like to re-iterate that the criteria for deferment remain strict and limited to exceptional cases. The criteria for deferment have not changed and both Mr Schooling and Mr Quah met these criteria."
Zheng Wen, who was the most bemedalled athlete at the recently-concluded SEA Games held in Singapore with 12 medals, will enlist for NS at the end of his deferment period.
Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy hailed the decision.
He said: "This is a great boost not just for swimming, but for sports in Singapore. This decision illustrates the willingness of the government to encourage our athletes and to help them achieve their individual goals in their sporting career. This will only inspire other athletes across all sports to strive harder and to push themselves to reach world-class standards.
"We are confident that this move will allow our best and brightest sporting heroes to better focus on their training and development and achieve their best during their prime. The swimming fraternity is pleased to hear the news and will continue to encourage Zheng Wen in his progress at the upcoming 2015 World Championships in the lead up to the 2016 Olympic Games."
Zheng Wen added: "I am very happy to have been granted deferment. I am grateful for this opportunity and honoured to be able to represent Singapore at the Olympics in 2016. It’s every athletes dream to represent their nation at the largest multi-sporting event in the world, and I’m hoping to do my family, friends and country proud in Rio."
He clinched 7 golds, 4 silvers and a bronze, re-writing three National Records and also helped in setting three new relay records.
Schooling won 9 golds.