Schooling and Quah to enlist for NS as deferments have ended
Deferments for both national swimmers ended on Aug 31
National swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen will enlist for national service (NS) as their long-term NS deferments have ended, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement yesterday.
The enlistment process for Schooling, 26, and Quah, 24, recommenced from Aug 31, when their deferments ended.
"As their deferment until Aug 31, 2021, has ended, both Mr Schooling and Mr Quah will proceed to fulfil their NS obligations, as agreed to when they applied for deferment," said Mindef.
"They will be enlisted once the necessary pre-enlistment procedures have been completed."
Schooling said yesterday that he was "very grateful" for the Government's "non-wavering support" in his swimming career, and added that without deferring his NS, he would not have achieved the results he did.
"As a son of Singapore, I am honoured to serve my country," he said. "More importantly, now more than ever, my family needs me. It is time for me to fulfil my filial duties."
Quah also expressed his gratitude to the Government for his earlier deferments. "I am always thankful for the opportunity to represent Singapore - whether it is through enlisting or swimming," he said.
Mindef reiterated in its statement that long-term deferment from full-time NS is granted "very selectively for exceptional sportsmen" who are assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games and are able to bring national pride to Singapore.
Each appeal for deferment is assessed according to stringent criteria, in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Mindef said.
Other than the two swimmers, only one other athlete in the last 15 years has been granted such long-term deferment - sailor Maximilian Soh, for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Schooling and Quah, whose deferments began in 2014 and 2015 respectively, enjoyed good outings at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Schooling won a historic first Olympic gold medal for Singapore in the men's 100m butterfly in an Olympic record time, while also qualifying for the 100m freestyle semi-final. Quah, meanwhile, qualified for the semi-finals of the 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly - placing in the top 16 of each event.
At the Tokyo Olympics in July, Schooling's defence of his title crumbled after he finished last in his 100m butterfly heat and ranked 44th out of 55 swimmers. In the 100m freestyle, he placed 39th.
Quah finished 22nd in the 100m backstroke and 200m butterfly, and 34th in the 100m butterfly, and did not achieve any personal best.
Both swimmers had said in interviews after their swims in Tokyo that they were keen to race in several high-level competitions scheduled for next year, such as the swimming world championships (May), Commonwealth Games (July) and Asian Games (August), and yesterday reiterated that those ambitions have not changed.
Schooling said that he has resumed training while going through the pre-enlistment procedures.
The SSA said yesterday that it is "supportive of Joseph's and Zheng Wen's enlistment and subsequent plans".