AN ASIAN BEST, JOE?
Winning isn't everything but wanting to win is.
The truism of this quote by the legendary American gridiron coach Vince Lombardi is stark when you are playing at home.
Favourites of host countries naturally go for gold.
But underdogs have added impetus and motivation to sense success when the Games come home.
So it was for a bunch of local cyclists, led by the ace in the pack, Roland Lim, before Singapore's first hosting of the South-east Asian Peninsular (Seap) Games in 1973.
They were a committed lot, bursting with enthusiasm and raring to go.
They worked hard, trained tirelessly and encouraged each other as the days ticked off towards the Games.
Alas, in their over-exuberance and burning desire to achieve a home victory, they suffered an accident.
During a turn at the Farrer Park cinder track venue, they crashed.
For the majority of them, their medal hopes went up in flames.
But these same cyclists became sporting spectators as they turned to cheer other Singapore sportsmen chasing home glory.
And so Singapore produced the fastest woman in the pool when Pat Chan, already in her twilight years but inspired by the home crowd, won yet another gold in the women's 100 metres freestyle.
The fastest woman on land was Eng Chiew Guay, who surprised everyone by winning the women's 100m sprint.
Home support also saw our hockey boys beat arch-rivals Malaysia for the gold, the only time they have won the title in the 27 editions of the Seap/South-east Asia Games.
There were so many other surprise golds in the gym, indoor hall, range ring and in the open seas in 1973.
On the penultimate day of the Games, a nation's hopes rested on the shoulders of a small man in boxer M. Selveekam.
Singapore were superior to leaders Thailand in the silver category in the medal table, but one short in the gold tally.
In the last fight of the night at the Singapore Badminton Hall, Selveekam, conceding at least 10 centimetres in height and certainly more in reach, faced a tough Thai in Prajak Hirunrat in a three-rounder.
The cheers rang loud as the bell sounded, and the gutsy local policeman matched the Thai in the first round and even floored his opponent in the second.
And when the verdict went 3-2 in the Thai's favour (inviting loud boos from the home supporters), the crowd stood to applaud Selveekam's gutsy display.
Singapore (45 golds, 50 silvers, 45 bronzes) finished second to Thailand (47-25-27) in what is one of their best displays at the Games.
After 22 years, the SEA Games comes around again to Singapore next year.
There is a parallel to the 1973 event: the old National Stadium opened just before the '73 Games, while the Singapore Sports Hub, with the new National Stadium as its centrepiece, will only be a year old when the Games opens here in June next year.
What do we want most from the Asean event at our doorstep?
The clamour has been for an unprecedented football gold, or yet another track sprint gold after 46 years.
We should rule the pool in swimming and water polo. We'll certainly hear our bowling pins fall and our sailors will rule the seas.
But we want more, to signal that we have arrived.
And in Joseph Schooling, we have a swimming megastar.
In the year before the Rio Olympics, can we ask Schooling to provide us an Asian record/best?
With his US training, he should be primed for it. With his NS deferment, he should be geared for it.
And with a whole nation behind him, he can deliver.
So go for it, Joe!
2015 SEA GAMES:
JOS & JOSEPH