Motion on Olympic and Paralympic Achievements – Speech by Sylvia Lim

Delivered in Parliament on 5 October 2021

Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of this motion of thanks. Let me begin, like others in this House, by expressing my appreciation and congratulations to all our national athletes, regardless of whether they may have medaled in these most recent Games, and of course to Ms Yip Pin Xiu, our country’s most decorated sports personality.

Supporting our sportsmen through thick and thin

Following the unexpected losses of some of our athletes at the recent Games, criticism arose in some quarters about their disappointing performances. But as any sportsman or sportswoman will tell you—I used to be one, albeit never a particularly distinguished one—even with the best preparation, one’s performance is subject a host of extrinsic influences. Despite exercising extreme care with one’s diet, breakfast may simply not have agreed that morning. One could lose concentration, for split second. The wind may not blow in your favor at a critical moment. Or your opponent could simply be having the best performance of their life.

I am certain that all our Olympians and Paralympians all gave their best shot during their time in Tokyo. Even in instances where they may not have won, some achieved personal bests. Sport is as much about overcoming personal barriers as it is about beating the competition. That many of our athletes were able to rise to the occasion and establish new individual records is, likewise, laudable, even if medals were not involved.

More generally, we need to understand, as a nation, that our support for our sportsmen and women should not be dependent on them having won medals or tournaments. Our nation’s sporting culture will only be elevated when we do not view their accomplishments as transactional—and as such, we only celebrate the wins—but rather unconditional, based on the fact that these individuals—having been blessed with the talent, ability, and desire—subsequently chose to sacrifice their time, energy, and finances toward climbing the pinnacles of their sport. In representing us, they afford us the enormous privilege of being able to live vicariously through their accomplishments and successes. For that, we at the Workers’ Party, and I’m sure all in this House, are thankful.