Swim star Quah granted NS deferment
Gary Tan has been mostly responsible for the early development of Quah Zheng Wen.
He has closely monitored the progress of the swimming prodigy from the time he turned 13.
Tan, who now heads the National Training Centre squad and is set to become the national coach, believes that "the sky's the limit" for Quah, who turns 20 next week.
Quah, who competed in his second Olympics in Rio last month, was yesterday granted a second deferment from full-time National Service, until the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In a statement, Quah thanked government bodies like Mindef, the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth and Sport Singapore for their support.
He said: "I'm deeply appreciative of the opportunity to be able to train full time and dedicate myself to doing my best and making our nation proud.
"With the extended deferment, it gives me the peace of mind to continue to train hard and work towards my goal of Tokyo 2020.
"Since the Rio 2016 Olympics, I've been very touched by the support received and would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their support."
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen broke the news on his Facebook page yesterday.
He wrote: "For the first time ever, we now have two Olympics medal prospects - Zheng Wen and Joseph Schooling - who are exceptional sportsmen and meet all the existing criteria for deferment.
"This speaks well of our sporting talent in our younger generation. I hope their achievements will encourage many more sportsmen and women to excel."
In a statement, Mindef said: "The Armed Forces Council (AFC) deliberated and approved Mr Quah's application of extended deferment received this month.
"The AFC noted that Mr Quah had been granted deferment in 2015 to compete for the 2016 Olympics as he had fulfilled standing criteria.
"Deferment may be granted to exceptional cases of individual sportsmen who are assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games."
Quah was granted his first deferment last year, up till end-August this year, in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He reached the semi-finals of the men's 100m and 200m butterfly events, and was ranked 22nd in the men's 100m backstroke.
Olympic champion Schooling was also granted a second NS deferment after his historic triumph in the men's 100m butterfly last month.
Before the Olympics, Quah, who has an offer to read medicine at the National University of Singapore, indicated he would not request for a second deferment.
The swimmer could not be reached for comment yesterday.
He has been on a break since Rio and will return to training next week.
Tan said he will sit down with the versatile swimmer - Quah holds all three backstroke national marks, along with the 400m individual medley national record - to discuss his plans.
Said Tan: Currently, just based on the recent Olympics, he's done very well in the events like the 100m fly and 200m fly, together with the backstroke events.
"As for the IM, we'll have to assess that as we go along; he still has a lot of potential and, in making two semi-finals in Rio, the sky's the limit."