It’s still sinking in, but it’s a fact – 68 years on from Singapore’s first appearance at the Olympic Games, we have our first gold medallist. Joseph Schooling’s victory in the 100m butterfly at Rio 2016 will be talked about for generations and here’s how Singapore (and the rest of the world) reacted as we witnessed the historic moment
By Hiasa Kyte
1. Unbridled joy and pride
From the emotions of Schooling’s father, Colin, to the Presidential and Prime Ministerial plaudits and the countless expressions of joy from Singaporeans from all walks of life, August 13th, 2016, was a day of unprecedented elation; a day when most of us forgot about whatever divides us and remembered everything we have in common. Few moments of national pride can compare to watching our flag raised as “Majulah Singapura” was played on the Olympic stage for the very first time.
2. Scoring points on social media
Well played, Changi Airport!
Remember when people defended the “commercial decision” not to broadcast the Olympics live?
Remember the suggestion that delayed broadcasts were simply a “different way of celebrating”? Remember being told to “grow up”? Oh yes, we do remember.
4. Looking for lucky numbers
Good luck buying 5039 anytime soon.
5. Pokémon STOP
Wasn’t it nice to have a Pokémon-free news feed for a while (minus the meme above, of course)
6. Inconvenient questions about National Service
Most 21-year-old Singaporean men are in the midst of a full-time National Service (NS) stint or readjusting to civilian life after said stint. Part of Schooling’s success can be attributed to the fact that he was allowed to defer his NS to focus on training in the United States. With his sights now set on the 2017 FINA World Championships and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on the horizon, many people can’t help but ask: What’s the plan?
Spare a thought for the Singapore women’s table tennis team members who are still competing in Rio with a storm of disparaging comments about the achievements of “foreign talents” only a click away.
There are Singaporeans who still don’t know that Eurasians exist and that they too are Singaporean.
9. Joseph who?
From CNN to the BBC and Facebook’s list of trending topics, reports of the race were led by the fact that Michael Phelps hadn’t won it. We like how The New York Times approached the subject.
But no spin on Phelps’ “loss” can take the shine away from his sportsmanship. The greatest Olympian in history had many passing-the-torch moments with Schooling and if he does retire for good after Rio, he’s provided us with one more lasting image – that enormous smile as he received his silver medal won in a unique triple dead heat with fellow greats Chad le Clos (South Africa) and Laszlo Cseh (Hungary).
11. New-found belief in the power of dreams
What a difference eight years of hard work can make.
You said it, champ!
13. “Got public holiday or not?”
“The answer, of course, is no.”
Hiasa Kyte is a regular contributor to Straatosphere. From absinthe to zinfandel, Hiasa drinks it all. While he knows his way around grand old whiskies and Bordeaux First Growths, he gets his real kicks trying unheralded booze found on the dusty lower shelves of the alcohol world.