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​​​​A winner's game

I was born in a very small nation, the nation island of Singapore. We are not recognised by our sporting achievements. And yes, my nation participates in far fewer events than sporting giants such as the USA and Russia. That is because we have a far smaller population (5.399 million in 2013, source UNdata) than them and hence a smaller talent pool  to begin with. Life in my country revolves mainly around the need to be economically successful. That is the foundation of my country. We thrived and existed because of a strong economic foundation.

Hence a career in sports is not a popular option. Firstly, the demand for sporting talents in my country is limited as we have a very small sporting scene as compared to many countries. Secondly, it is a culture, a norm to prioritise a professional 9 to 5 career (in reality it might be 8 to 8). Last but not least, a career in sports normally do not span for many decades unless one ventures into coaching. But then again, due to the small sporting arena in my country, the career options for coaches are limited as compared to that of office related jobs.

Yet, my countryman, from the tiny nation of Singapore, by the name of Joseph Isaac Schooling, has beaten an Olympic giant in swimming, Michael Phelps and eventually won the Gold in  the 100m Butterfly event in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

As many of my countrymen rejoice in his victory, I took some moments to reflect and think of the reasons which have turned him into a champion.

1) He had a very big dream, to be a swimming legend. 
He is seriously passionate about it and he is focused. Most of us have big dreams, but when we face obstacles and we hit a plateau, which everyone will, how many of us persist? Obstacles and challenges are what makes us grow. We are forced to grow in order to succeed. If we view the challenges as insurmountable, we will never grow beyond a certain point.

2) He had a lot of support.
His parents are ever supportive of his dreams. Some people may argue that not everyone has supportive parents. Surround yourself with supportive people then. Genuinely supportive people. The motivation and encouragement they pass on to you might be the additional boost to your progress.

3) He has the right role model.

And yes, what a role model he has, Michael Phelps. When you have a victorious role model (i am speaking strictly based on olympic achievements and not personal life), you are bound to want to be like him or her. Yes, choose the right role model. Unfortunately many of us tend to choose role models based on media popularity. Eventually, who we look up to will have an influence over what we want to achieve. (And he eventually won against his role model!)

4) He was preceded by many who have popularised and built the foundationfor swimming competitors in my country such as Ang Peng Siong and Joscelin Yeo to name 2. The local swimming greats in my country, has done extensive work for decades to ensure that the sport of swimming is a success. Very often, for a huge achievement to be made, there must be solid foundation laid long before it is achieved. If you do not have any to build the building blocks for your success, you have to start building as early as you can and persist until it pays off. Success does not come overnight. You did not witness the dedication and trainings the olympic athletes put in - these are not normally shown on the TV screen. What you see is usually the end product of thousands of hours of labour, passion and dedication.


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5) He is in the company of winners.

He trains with the University of Texas. They have a large pool of achievers on swimming. How can you not succeed when you are in the company of winners? You get to learn from fellow winners and you are constantly pushed by your team mates. Even if you are etched out by your team mates, you are still far better than many others in the world.

6) He has legendary coaches.

Both in Singapore and in the USA. A legend creates a legend. Enough said. Even if a legendary teacher does not create a legendary student, the willing student would have learnt the tricks and trade to be a legend. It is up to the student to live up to it.

7) He is focused.

Swimming has always been his passion since a young tender age. Perhaps one of the reasons why he chose the University of Texas as his college was because he knew that this is the place that will help him to achieve his dreams in swimming.

These views are entirely mine and are based on my personal reflection of Joseph Schooling's 2016 Olympic victory in the 100m butterfly . It may be a coincidence if my views are similar to yours. Feel free to contribute your views

to  abraham@bitesizedessentials.com


Posted by Abraham A.L on 14th August 2016

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