Achieving excellence in sports means that elite athletes, who are competent individuals, can perform at the highest level of consistency to effectively excel in training environments and competitions on the biggest stages. However, Singapore is never consistent in producing world-class athletes that can deliver the required expectations.
Currently, Singapore Sports School is the only specialized school to produce elite sportsman and women, coupled with athletes emerging from all walks of life. With the rise of Joseph Schooling and a few other athletes who have had success on the world stage, this puts Singapore’s sports development system in question.
Singapore Sports Development System
The Singapore Sports School is regarded as the only platform for specialized sports development. They should be celebrated and defined as a symbol of inspiration to aspiring young athletes and the nation. Instead, the school is situated in an inaccessible location, sandwiched between the dense vegetation, expressway and an airbase. This renders the school almost out of sight to Singaporeans and an unhealthy environment with potential noise and air pollution. In the 16 years of operation, the Singapore Sports School has only produced 8 Olympians. Notably, with Colin Chen opening up his journey to success, he emphasized the need for taking risks and sacrifices. These sacrifices include academics and personal life.
Singapore Sports Culture
Singapore is in no shortage of high-quality facilities for the community and its athletes as displayed from ActiveSG and Kallang Alive. Conversations on the current sports culture prove that Singaporeans still care about the nation’s athletes. However, Singaporeans need to be educated on the importance of sports involvement with the media being the first line of positive and constructive influence. Granted, without a performing sports individual or team, there is not much to cheer for. Therefore, elite sports development system should be put into priority.
Proposed Singapore Sports Academy
Focused on the development of world class athletes, the Singapore Sports Academy looks to produce a new generation of sportsmen and sportswomen to earn Singapore a place on the international sporting map. The academy aims to achieve sporting excellence while de-prioritizing academic ambitions. Situated in the heart of Singapore’s sporting nexus, the academy is designed to adopt a conducive environment for both our athletes and the public. This encourages interaction and bonds to be forged amongst them. Unorthodox yet expressive, the construction and spatial arrangements almost literally embodies the notion of stepping out of the box. A symbolic home to athletes and the public alike, capturing the essence of cultivating elite sports; to step out of our comfort zones and strive for greatness.
“We are not here to create champions but an environment where champions are inevitable” – by Forbes Carlile
Singapore Going for Gold
With the current sports development system in place, it might be producing talents that can be competing on the regional level. However, this does not justify the amount of money and effort that the government has put in through the years. Achieving excellence requires sacrifices and commitment to the craft. We need a system that focuses on achieving sporting excellence and sports elitism while engaging the community.
Singapore must approach achieving sporting excellence as a zero sum game where sports should be the only focus instead of trying to balance sports with, for example, academics.
Although Singapore has one of the best facilities for athletics and sports compared with other countries, the performance of its sportsmen at the world stage is dismal – with only two Olympic medals to boast of so far in spite of spending billions in building sports facilities and inviting foreign talents to take up citizenship so they can represent Singapore. WuHan’s proposed Singapore Sports Academy aims to produce a new generation of sportsmen and sportswomen to earn Singapore a place on the international sporting arena. Situated at the heart of Singapore’s sporting nexus, the Academy is designed to provide a conducive and inspiring environment for athletes and sportsmen to excel and give them a more public image by making their training facilities open to the public. His proposal strives, through its design, to encourage interaction and bonding between the sportsmen and the public – unorthodox yet expressive, the construction and spatial arrangement embody the notion of “Faster, Higher, Further” – a symbolic home of excellence in sports for sportsmen and the public alike.- Prof. in Practice Richard Ho