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12-17-2007, 08:06 PM #1
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Foreign Talent Singapore's Firepower?
The Electric New Paper :
17 December 2007
By Santokh Singh
YES, it was a good Southeast Asia Games for the little red dot - the highest number of gold medals won away from home soil.
The last record was 42 gold medals at the previous Games in Manila two years ago. This time round we have made it 43.
So, it's time to ask again: Did we do well because of 'foreign' talent?
A Malaysian commentator did say, without getting his facts right, that 'Singapore had a foreign strike force in its soccer team'.
To my knowledge, the only 'import' was Agu Casmir, who did not even start for most matches.
But 'foreign' talent made a difference in other sports.
In table tennis, 'foreign' talent was responsible for a clean sweep of the gold medals.
The only athletics gold also came via foreign talent scheme representative Zhang Guirong.
Who can forget Tao Li's domination in the swimming pool.
No doubt, badminton's imports also helped it to a better showing, without taking away any credit from our very own Kendrick Lee.
Yet another burning question: Could we have done even better, perhaps break the home soil record of 50 gold medals achieved in 1993? Did some top performers stumble at the crucial moment? Could some of the silvers have been gold?
Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua gave an honest assessment in The Straits Times.
Despite its three gold-medal haul, an improvement over the last three Games, Ms Phua said: 'But crucial players choked big-time, and this had a ripple effect on the others. Some honest soul searching would have to be done...
'We may ground them for a few tournaments, until we are satisfied they have addressed these issues.'
Sometimes it is not the sportsman, it is the conditions surrounding the sport. In bowling, lane conditions are crucial and those in Thailand did not suit some from Singapore.
Another possible solution - the use of a sports psychologist. In these Games, bowling's failure to have one and shooting's wisdom to seek help may have made the difference.
Sometimes, there is an element of luck, as witnessed in sailor Koh Seng Leong's yet-to-be-achieved quest for a Games gold medal. He had no control over the winds. First it died down and then it changed directions.
But there are sports where you make your own luck - just ask Singapore's water polo boys and the Thai soccer squad.
These teams are prepared to take on more than their opponents - they make no excuses on pitch or pool conditions, are willing to play against the referees and any partisan crowd.
Their secrets - hard work, self-belief and the establishing of tradition which generation after generation wants to keep.
The Thais withstood the flying tackles of the Myanmar players, at times not even noticed by the officials. I did not see a single Thai player flinch. He got his treatment, came back on to the field and got the job done, in style.
Something our young Lions, who, despite a respectable bronze, may want to take note of.
Sometimes, you make your own luck by having the right attitude, working on the skills, staying focused and rising to the occasion.
And not making schoolboy errors.
Missing the goals with the goalmouth gaping is not being unlucky, it has to be something else.
Last edited by Loh; 12-17-2007 at 08:10 PM.
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