Ignore negativity, President Halimah tells Team Singapore
President Halimah tells Singapore's Olympians to use the energy to spur them on
President Halimah Yacob has urged Singapore's Olympians to ignore the haters and instead channel the online negativity into motivation.
Yesterday, she had a virtual meeting with 15 of the 23 athletes who competed at the July 23 to Aug 8 Tokyo Olympics. Some of the athletes were absent as they are based overseas.
Addressing those present, including swimmer Joseph Schooling and table tennis player Yu Mengyu, the President acknowledged their "sheer effort and determination" to make it to Tokyo despite the disruptions and uncertainties created by Covid-19.
She added: "You can be proud of yourself, regardless of what results you have achieved and what others say, and we are proud of you, too."
She noted that sport was an emotive activity and that there were thousands who supported the athletes during the Games.
But she also acknowledged that "as part of receiving diverse opinions in a public space, some may have questioned your abilities or dedication".
"A few may have made hateful comments," she added.
"Rather than paying attention to them, I urge you to take a step back and be assured that no one can take away your dedication to excellence.
"Ignore those harsh words and use that energy to spur you on to your next goal instead."
At Tokyo 2020, Team Singapore athletes participated in a record 12 sports but drew a blank after winning medals at each of the previous three Games.
There was online criticism, with some "negative, hurtful comments", particularly following Schooling's failure to advance from the heats in the 100m butterfly, the event in which he was the defending champion.
It led President Halimah to defend the athletes and encourage Singaporeans to be kind in a Facebook post on July 30.
Table tennis player Clarence Chew said: "I am grateful and heartened by the support from President Halimah, who took time to congratulate us and chat about our experiences while also encouraging and wishing us all the best in the future."
Shooter Adele Tan said she felt "inspired and motivated to reach greater heights" following the President's message, as she prepares for upcoming competitions after taking a break.
Madam Halimah also thanked the athletes' "village" of family, coaches, sport scientists and medical teams for their support. She also urged the sporting ecosystem stakeholders to "continue working hard to create an environment where our athletes can thrive, and our future athletes can be nurtured".
The President's call "to have a better environment for more athletes to thrive in" made badminton player Yeo Jia Min "hopeful for the future".
Noting that these had been a first Olympics for many of the contingent (only six had been to a previous edition), President Halimah told the athletes: "As Olympians, I hope that you will use your experience and knowledge in this regard and give back to the fraternity so that we can build a better sporting nation."
The session was also attended by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and other officials.