By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
When Feng Tianwei and her compatriots came back to Singapore with a table-tennis silver medal after the Beijing Olympics in Aug 2008, there were celebrations all around Singapore.
ST described the celebrations as “a century of pent-up excitement”. It reported (‘Cheers and national honours for winning trio‘, 26 Aug 2008), “It was a victory that took 48 years of waiting, and Singapore yesterday celebrated its Olympics silver medal-winning women’s table tennis team with what seemed like a century of pent-up excitement.”
Indeed, when Feng and company landed in Singapore from Beijing, they were welcomed home with 3-hour long celebrations which started at Changi Airport and ended at Raffles City Shopping Centre. Together with officials, media and cheerleaders, they were ferried on 4 open-top buses, travelling through Chai Chee, Haig Road and Orchard Road before arriving at Raffles City.
ST reported some 1,000 people at the Raffles City reception receiving them. The Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan, who was also at the reception, even announced that Feng and her compatriots would be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
ST added that the paddlers’ “historic achievement” has gripped the nation.
The paddlers were all hailed from China and given Singapore citizenship to play for Singapore, under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme. With regard to the victory celebrations for them, a certain segment of Singaporeans didn’t feel “excited” and were in fact critical of STTA for “importing mercenaries” just to win medals. This segment of Singaporeans refused to be involved in any celebrations for the table tennis paddlers.
10,000 people turns up for Schooling’s Olympic victory
If the 2008 victory celebrations for the paddlers are considered “a century of pent-up excitement” by ST, then the celebrations for Joseph Schooling’s winning gold at the Rio Olympics this year must be considered “a millennium of pent-up excitement”, since 10 times more people turned up for the celebrations of Schooling’s victory.
ST reported today (‘Screams, cheers for Schooling‘) that Schooling was cheered on by almost 10,000 people at his victory parade yesterday morning.
In fact, when the entourage was parading through an open-top bus on the roads, 2 drivers were so engrossed at the sight that they got into minor traffic accidents.
“The support today was really incredible,” said a stunned Schooling. “I didn’t expect so many people to turn up and I’m really thankful.”
Students were seen lining the streets, waving mini-flags and homemade signs to greet the native 100m butterfly champion.
In Marine Parade alone, where Schooling and his family live, more than 1,000 residents braved the scorching sun, some queuing for nearly two hours, just to meet this “Son of Marine Parade”.
Residents were also seen positioning themselves along common corridors and car parks of neighbouring blocks in Marine Parade just to catch a glimpse of Schooling.
Even his parents and swimming coach Sergio Lopez were swamped by people asking for autographs. And Schooling’s good friend and fellow national swimmer Teo Zhen Ren was also ambushed by a group of fans.
Meanwhile, many are critical of the non-performance of our table-tennis women’s team at the Rio Olympics (https://theindependent.sg.sg/
Feng and her compatriots did not win any medals this time and their performance seems to be regressing. In 2008 Beijing Olympics, they won a silver medal. In 2012 London Olympics, they got bronze. Now in Rio Olympics, they get nothing. It’s not known why they are not performing.
Truly, Singaporeans seem to be very united this time in celebrating the Olympic medal won by this “Son of Marine Parade”, Joseph Schooling.
A netizen succinctly put it, “You buy an Olympic medal you divide the nation. You cultivate your own winner, you unite the nation.”