Saturday, 17 September 2016

Should Paralympians be on the same reward scheme as Olympians?

Right after news broke that Yip Pin Xiu would be receiving $200,000 for winning a gold at this year’s Paralympics, the discussion online was whether there was a difference between her feat and that of Joseph Schooling’s, and if she should receive the same prize money as him. Schooling received $1 million in reward for his gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

But let’s be clear on two things first.

First, the amount of prize money, Yip said, “Over the years, I’ve always had friends coming up to me and said I should be given more. But I don’t make a hoo-ha about it. Because we don’t do it for the money.”

related: The number of companies congratulating world record breaker Yip Pin Xiu is absolutely incredible

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Raising Singapore's Paralympic heroes

S'pore para-swimming stars Theresa Goh (left) & Yip Pin Xiu at the Games Village in Rio. They are close friends both in and away from the water. Goh is a 4-time Paralympian whose perseverance finally paid off when she won a bronze in the 100m breaststroke SB4 last Sunday night.

The parents of medal-winning Paralympic swimmers Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh revelled in their daughters' feats in Rio. But at the heart of their success were common links to pain. Joan Chew tells their stories:

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Singapore debates whether Paralympic and Olympic gold winners should receive the same rewards
Paralympic swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won two gold medals in Rio. Photo: Yip Pin Xiu, via Facebook

Singaporean swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, who was born with a muscular dystrophy, won two gold medals in the 2016 Paralympics. She is assured of receiving 200,000 Singapore Dollars (US$146,000) for each gold medal she won in Rio de Janeiro.

But her supporters are asking the government to give her at least $1,000,000, the same amount received by swimmer Joseph Schooling, who won a gold medal in Rio last month. Aside from defeating the legendary swimmer Michael Phelps, there was the small matter of Schooling’s gold medal being the country’s first at an Olympics.

Some Singaporean netizens want equal treatment for Olympians and Paralympians. Some even reminded authorities that it was Yip Pin Xiu who gave Singapore its first gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

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Besides money, other types of support also important: Theresa Goh
Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu posing with their respective bronze and gold medals at Changi Airport Terminal 3

The last of Singapore’s Paralympic contingent for Rio 2016 arrived home on Wednesday morning, including double-gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu and bronze winner Theresa Goh.

The duo’s success in the pool in Brazil sparked a fresh debate over the monetary rewards that they should receive. The amount for Paralympic gold currently stands at $200,000, but many members of the public believe it should be raised to match the $1 million that Joseph Schooling received when he won Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold a month earlier.

Goh, the first local swimmer to make it to a Paralympics when she qualified for Athens in 2004, weighed in on the issue during a media session on the afternoon of their arrival.

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It's not just the money: Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh call for wider support for para-athletes
Paralympic double gold medallist Yip showing her medals to her nieces Shernice Ang, 4, & Chew Xiu Wen, 10, after arriving yesterday morning at Changi Airport Terminal 3.ST FOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Their feats at the recent Paralympics have re-ignited the debate on whether para-athletes deserve the same prize money as their able-bodied counterparts.

While Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh are thankful for those who have supported them and would welcome parity on that front, they said the ultimate goal is for their achievements to be recognised in the same bracket as Olympic athletes.

Yip, with 3 Paralympic golds (two earned this year and one in 2008), said: "Some people say it's (the Paralympics and) not as competitive but they don't see the value behind the sport, like how training is as tough, (or) that we work as hard. They just look at the result.

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Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh rise above equal rewards debate
Happy to be home: Singapore's Paralympic stars Yip Pin Xiu (L) & Theresa Goh share a light moment during their media conference on Sep 21. (Foto: Alicia Tantriady)

Paralympic medallists Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh elected to stay above the debate over equal reward money for able-bodied and disabled athletes, when they met the media on Wed (Sep 21) upon returning from the Rio Games.

The debate was reignited following Yip's double gold medal feat, with some members of the public calling for a million-dollar reward for her, similar to the S$1 million that Joseph Schooling will receive for his butterfly win - Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal.

But Yip & Goh stayed above the fray, insisting it was never in their minds to swim for monetary reward, and that matters of this nature should be dealt with by the relevant authorities.

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Paralympians call for equal respect and treatment
Paralympians Theresa Goh (left) & Yip Pin Xiu being greeted by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at Changi Airport yesterday. Goh bagged a bronze while Yip brought home two golds from the Rio Paralympics. foto: Jason Quah

Fresh from their stellar performances in Rio de Janeiro, Singapore Paralympians Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh made a passionate plea for S'poreans to see para-athletes on par with their able-bodied counterparts and accord them the same respect.

With their sporting futures up in the air, the two swimmers, who are considering retirement and will make a decision within the next 3 months, stressed they are not swimming for the money but for equality and respect, a call echoed by Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) chairman Teo-Koh Sock Miang.

The public debate on whether the country’s Paralympics medallists should be awarded the same prize money as their Olympic counterparts was once again ignited after Yip won two gold medals at the 2016 Paralympics in the 50m and 100m backstroke S2, and Goh bagged a bronze in the 100m breaststroke SB4.

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Amount of monetary reward for S’pore’s medalled Paralympians not fixed yet

Singapore gave Joseph Schooling S$1 million for his heroic Olympic Gold medal haul at Rio 2016 Olympic Games recently.

So, how much will the current Paralympic Games swimmers — gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu and bronze medallist Theresa Goh — get?

No one knows for sure yet because the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) website does not list the amount, unlike the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) that lists the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) for Olympians.

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Yip Pin Xiu wins 2 Paralympic gold medals at Rio

Once again, national swimmer Yip Pin Xiu has created a big splash at Rio 2016 by becoming the first Singaporean to win two Paralympic gold medals at the same Games.

Earlier this morning (Friday, S'pore time), the 24-yr-old beat six other athletes to triumph in the women's 50m backstroke - S2 final in 1:00.33.

She edged out China's Feng Yazhu, who took silver in 1:02.66. Ukraine's Iryna Sotska won bronze in 1:17.22.

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Give more support to Paralympic team

I am glad that para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh & the rest of our Paralympians are doing well in the Rio Paralympics (“Goh erases years of hurt with Paralympic triumph”; Sep 13).

To me, it was Yip & not Joseph Schooling — no disrespect and offence intended — who won Singapore’s first Olympic-level gold medal, in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

I was saddened to see the lack of congratulation and support for the 2008 Paralympic team when they returned to Singapore.

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Be inclusive in how we celebrate Paralympians
National para-swimmers Theresa Goh (left) & Yip Pin Xiu, with their medals won at the International Paralympics Committee Swimming European Open Championships 2016, at Changi Airport Terminal 1 on May 9. ST FOTO: DALENE LOW

The podium finishes of Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh at the Rio Paralympics are admirable achievements that have generated much applause and praise among S'poreans ("S'pore on track for best showing at Paralympics" and "Paralympics: At last, Goh wins elusive medal"; both published yesterday).

Both athletes have aptly demonstrated that their disabilities are no barrier to achieving success in the global sporting arena.

Goh's 17 years of perseverance that led to her bronze medal is an awe-inspiring feat that deserves no less recognition than Joseph Schooling's journey to his Olympic gold medal.

related: Paralympian Yip Pin Xiu a role model to inspire young athletes

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10 reasons why we would give Yip Pin Xiu $2 million in prize money

In 2008 and 2012, our Paralympian medalists were rewarded with significantly less money than their able-bodied counterparts. Yip Pin Xiu was rewarded with $200,000 for her trouble at the Beijing Olympics – and only because people protested about the initial $100,000 prize money.

If history repeats itself in 2016, she’ll be given just a fifth of the prize money of gold medallist Joseph Schooling, and for only one of the two Paralympic golds she now has.

But if it were up to us, we would give Yip $2 million in prize money. Here’s why.

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Paralympic two-time gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu knows you think her achievement ‘cannot be compared’ with Schooling’s

At 24, the achievements Singaporean Paralympic swimmer Yip Pin Xiu has attained for our country are unprecedented in all of our sporting history.

At the Paralympics, the highest-possible level of competitive para-sport, and the para-equivalent of the Olympic Games, Yip has already clinched two gold medals (the first one for her, and for Singapore, was in 2008, by the way).

Oh, did we forget to throw in her multiple world records? And the fact that each time she shaves time off her records, it’s not by decimals of a second, it’s by multiple seconds.

related: Before Joseph Schooling’s Olympic Gold medal, there was Yip Pin Xiu

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True champions before we dared dream of Olympic glory

Theresa Goh shook my hand with a vice-like grip. Underneath that big smile, you will see an athlete you don’t want to mess with.

Back then, she and buddy Yip Pin Xiu attended almost every event we organised leading up to London 2012. In spite of their training, they took time out to be real ambassadors of the sport they love and the country they represent.

When together, you hear them chatting about all sorts of things, but mostly it was about qualifying times, injuries, training, event categories, medal hopes. They spoke as if they have been training together all their lives, if not known each other all their lives. They were true athletes, and the nation only got to see them at their best when Theresa clinched a bronze at Rio 2016, after Pin Xiu secured a gold at the same.

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The Workers’ Party calls for national paralympians to receive the same prize awards as their able-bodied counterparts

The Workers’ Party (WP) in congratulating paralympians Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh for clinching Singapore’s first gold medal and a bronze medal at the Rio Paralympic Games said that they deserve the same respect and value as able-bodied athletes.

The opposition party said that the athletes dedication, sacrifice, discipline, and an indomitable fighting spirit should be recognised and that the smaller pool of competitors at the Paralympic Games should not be reason to deny them the recognition and compensation that is due to them.

“It is only right that they should receive equal treatment as any Singaporean athlete who competes at the highest international levels,” WP said in the press release in calling for national para-swimmers to receive the same prize awards from the Singapore National Olympics Council as their able-bodied counterparts.

related: Yip Pin Xiu wins sets two World Records and wins Gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympics

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Prize money debate reignites after Yip Pin Xiu’s gold-medal win
Yip Pin Xiu is the gold-medal favourite in Friday’s 50m backstroke S2 event after she set a new world and Paralympic record earlier. Foto : Reuters

A Malaysian newspaper’s report that the country’s Paralympic athletes will get the same monetary rewards as their Olympic counterparts when they win medals has sparked off calls from S'pore netizens for the authorities to do the same for local para-athletes who win medals at the Rio Paralympics.

The Malay Mail Online (MMO) reported on Sunday (Sep 11) that Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had reiterated on his Facebook page that Malaysia’s 2 Paralympic gold medallists will receive the exact RM1 million (S$330,914) reward offered to their able-bodied counterparts.

Khairy also said his previous decision to raise the reward for Paralympic medals from 30% of that of the Olympics to being on par — RM1 million for a gold medal, RM500,000 for a silver and RM100,000 for a bronze — was inspired by Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli who won a gold and set a new world record of 16.84m in the men’s shot put F20 (intellectual disability) at the Rio Paralympics.

Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh score free AirAsia flights
I hope this gold medal can unite S’poreans: Paralympic champ Yip Pin Xiu
Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh to get free AirAsia flights
Yip Pin Xiu sets two world records in gold-medal swim at Paralympics
‘You have made Singapore very proud today’: PM Lee to Yip Pin Xiu

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Lego pays tribute to Paralympic swimmers Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh with minifigures
Lego's minifigures of Singapore para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu (left) and Theresa Goh. ST FOTO: LEGO/FACEBOOK

Lego has honoured para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh's exploits in the pool with mini-figures created in their image.

In a Facebook post containing a picture of the 2 mini-figures on Tuesday (Sep 13), Lego S'pore wrote: "Congratulations to Yip Pin Xiu & Theresa Goh for bringing pride to Singapore! Your accomplishments have inspired us all."

The post has since garnered over 2,000 likes, with many on social media calling it a "cool" move on Lego's part.

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Netizens say Yip Pin Xiu needs to be given the recognition she deserves

Yip Pin Xiu, 24-year-old Singapore para-swimmer, has won a gold medal in the 100m backstroke S2 event with a world record in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Saturday (10 September). Making it the second gold medal won in Rio de Janeiro after Joseph Schooling's medal in the Olympics.

Competed with 5 other swimmers at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio, Yip also broke the world record by finishing the race in just 2min 7.09sec, beating China's Feng Yazhu (2min 18.65sec) and Ukraine's Iryna Sotska (2min 21.98sec).

In the 2008 Beijing Paralympics on 15 September, Yip was scheduled to be given $100,000 under the Singapore National Paralympic Council Athlete Achievement Awards scheme when she won her first gold medal.

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Paralympic gold winner Yip Pin Xiu: 'We can achieve great things'
RECORD-BREAKER: Yip Pin Xiu, who has muscular dystrophy, won her 2nd gold yesterday with a time of 2min 7.09sec in the 100m backstroke S2.FOTO: REUTERS

Just 28 days after Joseph Schooling won Singapore's 1st Olympic gold medal at the Olympics Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the Majulah Singapura reverberated around the venue once again yesterday morning (S'pore time).

This time, it was para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu's turn to fly the Republic's flag high at the Paralympics.

The 24-yr-old struck gold in the 100m backstroke S2 final in world-record time- her second gold following her triumph in the 50m backstroke S2 at the Beijing Games in 2008.

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Yip Pin Xiu: Singapore’s only Paralympic gold medallist wins Rio gold

AFTER winning the 50m backstroke (S3) eight years ago at the Beijing Olympics, Yip Pin Xiu won the 100m backstroke (S2) final yesterday at the Rio Olympics.

She smashed her own world record by more than two seconds, and hoped that her gold medal would – as “[Joseph Schooling’s] gold medal brought Singaporeans together – do the same.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared their congratulations on their Facebook pages, and Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth Grace Fu added that a public celebration has been planned for the Paralympians – including Singapore’s first and only Paralympic gold medallist – when they return from the games.

related: Sheep die in flight, rental cars boom, and we’re debating Paralympics rewards

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Singapore’s first Olympic-level gold medal winner

She was the youngest of the Singapore team at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, but Yip Pin Xiu was also the brightest star, bringing home Singapore's first ever Olympic-level gold medal.

Pin Xiu was born with muscular dystrophy, which means her muscles degenerate progressively with age.  Her condition made it difficult for her to connect with and keep up with her schoolmates, and she became introverted. By the age of 13, she could no longer walk and had to use a wheelchair.

She had started swimming when she was five with her brothers as a weekly family activity.  A volunteer with the Singapore Disability Sports Council noticed her swimming and how she was able, despite her physical challenges, to keep up with the other children and encouraged her to swim competitively. She began to do so when she was 12.

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Rio 2016 Paralympics Games
Pin Xiu Yip
Last Records: WR2:07.09
Women's 100m Backstroke - S2

SINYIP Pin XiuRio2016

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Honour Yip, but don't put her in the same league as Schooling

And S'poreans all over the world, netizens from here & afar, and even politicians are lapping up the glory of Yip's feat - & a victory by "a mile" of more than 10 seconds over silver-medallist Feng Yazhu of China.

While luxuriating in Yip's 2-lap superhuman effort, the glued group are also caught in the frenzy of what Yip's reward should be. The 2-time Paralympic gold medal winner, who was born with muscular dystrophy, is assured of a $200,000 reward as stipulated by the Athletes Achievement Awards rewards scheme which is driven by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC).

But in the wake of swimmer Joseph Schooling's Olympic 100 metres butterfly gold medal - a first for Singapore - which won him a $1 million booty (although he takes home $680,000), there is a clamour for Yip to receive a similar reward.

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ASEAN’s Paralympic medallists gets free flights for life offer from AirAsia

AirAsia will provide free flights to all Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Paralympians who won a medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games, Tony Fernandes, wrote in an Instagram post today (Sep 12). The offer meant that Singaporean Paralympian gold medallist, Yip Pin Xiu, who broke the world-record with the 100m backstroke S2 win will get to enjoy this deal.

Mr Fernandes who is the CEO of the budget airlines said:
“Thought the summer olympics was amazing. But the Paralympics has showed me what determination is all about. Once again this time led by Malaysia Asean is doing something special. Airasia will be giving Free flights for life for all Gold medals winners 5 years for silver and 3 years for bronze. Airasia was all about democracy. Thanks guys and girls for giving all of us the spirit to never give up despite all the obstacles in front of us.”
AirAsia had previously announced after the Rio Olympic Games that it would provide “free flights for life” to all ASEAN athletes who had won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games, which meant that Singapore’s very own Joseph Schooling would be eligible for the good will offer as well.

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Singapore para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu destroys world record at European games

At the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, national paralympic swimmer Yip Pin Xiu broke 2 world records at the heats for the 50m (S3) backstroke and 50m freestyle events.

Now the trailblazer has done it again, coming in just under 7 seconds faster than the previous world record for the women's 100m (S2) backstroke at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal on Wed (May 4).

Yip clocked a time of 2min 9.79s for the race. This was far below the previous best time of 2min 16.31s. She also set a new world record of 1min 1.39s for the 50m backstroke, as well as Asian records in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.

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You can’t buy national pride with money, nor produce champions with just passion

Peng Siong is being obviously “politically correct” in avoiding any mention of government support.

Joseph’s parents (Colin and May Schooling) were financially able to support their son’s Olympic-standard training – even then, the Schoolings had to sell their overseas investment property to fund Joseph.  And there were public accounts of the uphill battles Joseph’s mum fought to get NS deferral for her son in order not to lose the momentum of his swimming development.

Peng Siong’s parents did NOT have that level of financial resources.  But that didn’t make Peng Siong any less of a “champion” in the true sense of the word.  Swimming remains Peng Siong’s love to this day.

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It's not all fun at the Paralympic Games
CHAMPIONS: Great Britain's Susannah Rodgers (above), Singapore's Theresa Goh, and sitting volleyball players of the United States and Brazil are just some of the inspiring Paralympians in Rio

When Egyptian paddler Ibrahim Hamadtou steps up to the table, he does so without his right shoe.

That's because this Paralympian needs his toes to scoop the ball up for his service as he bats it with the paddle, which he holds between his teeth.

Hamadtou, who lost both his arms in a train accident when he was only 10 years old, made headlines for his playing style during his Paralympic debut last Friday.

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Explanatory guide to Paralympic classification

Classification provides a structure for competition. Athletes competing in para-sports have
an impairment that leads to a competitive disadvantage. Consequently, a system has to be
put in place to minimise the impact of impairments on sport performance and to ensure the
success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and
mental focus.

This system is called classification.

Classification determines who is eligible to compete in a para-sport and it groups the eligible
athletes in sport classes according to their activity limitation in a certain sport.

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Full Coverage:
Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh rise above equal rewards debate
It's not just the money: Yip & Theresa call for wider support for para-athletes
Paralympians call for equal respect and treatment
Besides money, other types of support also important: Theresa Goh
Swim stars Yip and Goh in different places over Tokyo 2020
Don't be a hater, Paralympics are 'just as hard': Yip Pin Xiu
Spore debates:Paralympic & Olympic gold winners receive same rewards?
Returning Paralympians make a splash at airport
Holiday next, as Goh decides on Tokyo 2020
'Your resilience & tenacity r amazing': President Tony Tan to Yip Pin Xiu
Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu clinches Singapore's 2nd gold medal

Thank you Singapore for supporting us: Yip Pin Xiu
Yip Pin Xiu wins 2 Paralympic gold medals at Rio
Yip Pin Xiu wins her second gold medal at Rio Paralympics 2016
Honour Yip, but don't put her in the same league as Schooling
Yip Pin Xiu wins second gold medal of Rio Paralympics
10 reasons why we would give Yip Pin Xiu $2 million in prize money
Give more support to Paralympic team
Paralympian Yip Pin Xiu a role model to inspire young athletes
Be inclusive in how we celebrate Paralympians
Paralympians become mini Lego toy figurines
Lego Makes Awesome Paralympian Swimmer Figurines
Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu Raring To Go For 2nd Gold
Singapore Paralympians immortalised as Lego figurines
In All Honesty: Paralympians deserve more than they're given
Lego Honors Paralympian Swimmers With Their Own Figures
Yip Pin Xiu wins gold again
Yip Pin Xiu wins gold in women's 50m backstroke S2, 2nd title of Rio
Cheers across Spore as para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu wins 2nd gold at Rio
Yip and Goh get own Lego figures
Should Paralympians be on the same reward scheme as Olympians?
Amount of monetary reward for Spore's medalled Paralympians not fixed yet
WP calls Paralympics medalists accorded equal treatment & compensation
It's not all fun at the Paralympic Games

Looking at Schooling's Olympic Gold Medal in perspective

The fantastic achievement of Joseph Schooling in winning a Gold Medal in the 100 metre butterfly swimming event at the Rio Olympics has brought a supreme reputation and prestige to Singapore in the history of the Olympics.

Singapore, especially PM Lee Hsien Loong and his ministers, have shown superb gratitude in according Joseph Schooling the supreme honour that has never been given to any athlete or artist in the past. The whole of Singapore is in ecstatic celebration in his honour and Joseph Schooling could not have been oblivious to all the adulations that have been poured on him. In all these frenzied exuberances would it not be prudent that a rational thought be given to the sensitivity of Joseph Schooling in having to face the future? He has been lifted so high on the pedestal of fame that we may be overdoing it so that there would be no consolation, but devastation, if he could not win any gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Of course, in the midst of all these celebrations, it could not have occurred in his mind.

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