Schooling: Don't discredit para-athletes
After their Rio exploits, Schooling, Yip and Goh have only admiration for one another
Joseph Schooling, Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh share a bond, with all three swimmers achieving success in Rio this year.
Schooling struck gold at the Olympic Games, while Yip did the same at the Paralympics, with teammate Goh landing a bronze medal.
The trio came together yesterday at the launch of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) Legacy Council exhibition at the National Museum.
And it was evident they were kindred spirits.
Asked on what she thought of Schooling's win in the men's 100m butterfly, Goh said: "(Yip and I) were really excited to watch him race, and when he got the gold, it was a very proud moment."
"In a way, (his victory) also brought up certain topics, such as equality in Singapore, and it's the same thing - we are all swimming and doing our best for our country," added the 29-year-old, who won a bronze in the women's SB4 100m breaststroke in Rio.
While an Olympic gold medallist receives $1 million under the Multi-million Dollar Award Programme, a Paralympic champion gets $200,000 under the Athlete Achievement Award.
Schooling, 21, was unequivocal about the achievements of Goh and Yip, who won gold in the women's S2 50m and 100m backstroke in Rio.
He said: "A gold medal is a gold medal, whether it's the Olympics or Paralympics.
"What they have accomplished is phenomenal and I don't think anyone should discredit them because it's the Paralympics.
"They worked just as hard as able-bodied athletes, put in just as much dedication and sacrificed just as much, if not more."
All three Singapore stars acknowledged that any form of prize money is a bonus and their love for the sport and desire to get better were the reasons they pushed themselves.
After the stunning triumph in Rio, the SSA Legacy Council added three panels – one for each swimmer, and each the size of about two ping-pong tables - to their existing slate of five exhibition panels.
The exhibition was launched in April this year, and showcases the history and success of aquatic sports in Singapore since independence in 1965.
Items like tracksuits, goggles and medals from various swimmers are on display. The exploits of Singapore swimming icons like Patricia Chan, Ang Peng Siong and Joscelin Yeo are also shown.
The exhibition will be at the National Museum till Saturday. Admission is free.
Yip, 24, said: "Growing up in Singapore, people sometimes say that we hardly produce champions, but being able to see these people on the panels, like Uncle (Peng) Siong and Joscelin, we can see that it is possible to get to where they are."
Chan, the SSA Legacy Council chairman, said: "I come from the first generation of swimmers after Singapore's independence, and if we don't do it (compiling archives and memories meaningfully), the legacy may be lost.
"You build on the (achievements) of the last person, and stand on the shoulders of those before you.
"You just keep going up, there's no need to re-invent the wheel."
Asked if he considered himself to be part of the pantheon of greats already, Schooling said: "I don't think any athlete aspiring to get better should think they are great; you'd lose all motivation and you're not going to improve."
Past and present champs
Rio Olympics champion Joseph Schooling met Olympic silver medallist Tan Howe Liang at a function hosted by Singapore's International Olympic Committee member Ng Ser Miang yesterday at the Marina Bay Golf Course.
During the lunch, Schooling presented a copy of his book to Tan, who was the Republic's first Olympic medallist with his weightlifting silver at the 1960 Rome Games, with the message "Thank you for being an inspiration".