Those of you who know Kendrick Lee may be pleased to learn that he is back in training for the Southeast Asian Games scheduled next month in Vietnam. Kendrick was World Junior Championship Runner-Up 2002, the best performance by any Singaporean teenager at the world stage thus far. Remember Lin Dan and Bao Chunlai also had their baptism of fire at the WJC not too long ago and with further training and ambition, they have eclipsed some of their more illustrious seniors! Kendrick was 18 then and he sacrificed one term of his Polytechnic studies to train for that event. After his WJC success, he was in two minds as to whether to continue his studies or to turn professional. But first he has to do his duty as a Singapore Citizen by being enlisted to serve National Service (NS), a normal period of 2 1/2 years' military training. The first three months of NS is basic military training (BMT) to prepare the serviceman for further action. This normally consists of physical fitness and mental training. In a way, it was good for Kendrick as he was able to build up his fitness, stamina and was exposed to the discipline and "mental torture" of his NCO's. But the flip side of this is that Kendrick had no badminton training at all during this period and his badminton skills and instincts slowly but surely deteriorate. He will lose his sharpness and speed on the court without proper training and 3 months is a very long time to lay off. It is to the credit of the SBA and the authorities to release Kendrick to train with the National Team for the SEA Games. I guess they were able to put up a case for a rare talent like Kendrick who can bring honours to Singapore. But, there is no formal policy as such to ensure that talented male athletes are given time off to continue their respective training, which is essential to maintain not only their interest in his chosen sport but more importantly, that they can continue to make progress in their training. Currently, it seems to be on a case-by-case basis, as in Kendrick's example. I believe that if Singapore really wants to make a mark in regional and international sports, the NS authorities concerned should sit down and discuss with the national sports associations as to how they should tackle this question of talented sportsmen having to fulfill their NS requirements as citizens. Talented sportspeople are difficult to find in Singapore as most still prefer the relative comfort of acquiring good paper qualifications, although more parents are beginning to change their mindsets to allow their children more options, such as choosing sports as a career.