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Winning Medals

This has been a good year for medals.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in August, the Women’s Table Tennis Team, comprising of Li Jiawei, Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu, won Singapore her second silver medal. Tan Howe Liang had the honour of earning the first silver medal (weightlifting, lightweight category) during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

It was a big thing when the ladies won. Singaporeans were ecstatic, and rightly so. It was 48 years since we last won an Olympic medal. Our state media blared their achievements and companies tripped over each other to offer their most sincere congratulations.

Still there were criticisms the medal was won by Chinese-born players who became Singaporean citizens under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme, and not by natural-born Singaporeans (Read it here; the article was reproduced under ‘PADDLERS’ ACHIEVEMENTS’). According to the article, "95 percent of the 3,225 voters answered ‘no’ when asked if they would be proud of a China-born table tennis team winning a medal for Singapore". What say you?

In September, we won medals at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing courtesy of Yip Pin Xiu (Gold in 50m Backstroke; Silver in 50m Freestyle) and Laurentia Tan (Bronze in Equestrian Individual Championship Test [Grade Ia]; Bronze in Equestrian Individual Freestyle Test [Grade Ia]).

Likewise, it warms the heart to see them win. Against a loaded set of genetic dice.

Are our Paralympians rewarded as richly as our Olympians? Apparently, Laurentia will earn $25,000. And the Women’s Table Tennis Team will earn $750,000. Even spilt three-ways, each paddler will earn $250,000. That’s just 10% (read the commentary here). Is it fair?

Even when we win medals, we are jealous and we short-change our athletes. What a damn shame.

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