Give Joseph Schooling SEA Games prize money, say Singaporeans. They are once again standing by the national swimmer after news emerged that the money has been put on hold. Schooling is due to get prize money for winning two golds and one bronze at the SEA Games in Hanoi earlier this year.
On Sept 14, CNA reported the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) as saying that 68 SEA Games and Commonwealth Games medallists had been given as much as $860,000 for their stellar performances.
It added, however, that the prize money for Schooling was put on hold, with the SNOC choosing not to comment further on the matter.
Netizens have largely been supportive of Schooling since the drug scandal erupted, and defended the swimmer once more in comments to the CNA report.
“No reason to hold his prize money. He earned it. To hold it against him because of his past lapse in responsibility not that it is condoned, is vindictive and counterproductive,” a netizen wrote.
Another said holding back Joseph Schooling’s SEA Games prize money was “senseless and totally hypocritical”.
“He has suffered enough. Give him his prize money,” wrote one.
“So much for being honest n he trained and fought hard for the country,” wrote another, referring to Schooling’s performance in international competitions.
“He is not a drug trafficker. He fought so hard to do that for the country and this is what he gets,” yet another netizen opined.
One woman wrote that Schooling is being “doubly punished”.
“When we made mistake in life, we all want a second chance yet many of us here not giving him that 2nd chance but here to give him that 2nd kick when he is down on the ground,” a male commenter wrote.
The country’s only Olympic gold medallist was conspicuously absent from the Major Games Award Programme awards presentation and Team Singapore appreciation dinner, which was held on Wednesday, Sept 14.
On Aug 30, it was reported that Schooling had been found to have taken cannabis overseas in May when he was on short-term disruption from full-time National Service (NS) to train and participate in the Southeast Asian Games.
The swimmer was issued a formal letter of warning by the Ministry of Defence “informing him of the serious consequences of drug abuse meted out to all SAF personnel, who may be sentenced up to nine months detention in the SAF Detention Barracks.”
Schooling issued an apology on the same day, citing “a moment of weakness after going through a very tough period of my life”. /TISG