Winning with Honour  l  Gold for Singapore, Honour for Best Efforts

Joseph Schooling winning with honour, making history, and breaking an Olympic record, at the Rio Olympics is an awesome historic event. Seeing him sing our national anthem, Majulah Singapura, at the victory ceremony made Singaporeans proud. A marvelous and inspiring achievement!

Thank you Joseph, Mr Colin Schooling, and Mrs May Schooling for the unseen sacrifices and enormous efforts that it took to enable Singapore to be world leading…not just world class.

But in the midst of all the applause and congratulations, we should ask ourselves: what exactly are we celebrating? 

If we are concentrated on celebrating the achievement, we would be making a big mistake. We should be celebrating the sustained effort, the sacrifices, the push, the drive, and the tenacity to get to where we have never been to.

We have to celebrate Schooling’s courage to be different from others, to stand up against detractors and sceptics along the way, and to believe that size (be it of the physical body or a nation) must not hold us back – instead, it should push us forward to try even harder!

If what we celebrate about Schooling is the sacrifice and the effort that draw our attention with the gold medal along the way, it must make us celebrate the sacrifice and effort of everyone else in Team Singapore at Rio, everyone else who tried to get onto that Singapore team, and everyone else who tries, and keeps trying.

For the continued survival and success of our “Little Red Dot”, Singaporeans have to be a people who honour best efforts more than achievement. We have to stand by everyone who tries according to what their talents and abilities allow them to be. To only remember or celebrate the medalists is to undermine our future.

Winning with Honour  l  Honour Best Effort over Achievement

There is the story of two teams of kids playing soccer for a treat at McDonald’s. Think about it…who needs the treat more at the end of the game – the losing team, demoralized and in tears, or the winning team, basking in their success? Usually, it is the winning team that is given a treat, but objective thought would tell us it is the losing team that needs the McDonald’s treat more (but only if they had tried their best).

To concentrate on just the winners is to reinforce the “winner takes all”, “put your opponents down”, and “sabotage your competitors” culture that pervades far too much of what we do in life, and what, most unfortunately, many parents teach their kids. 

The real challenge for all of us is to be the best that we can be and to give the best that we can everyday. We lose if we don’t try. We win just by trying.

It is by honouring effort that we can be the innovative, creative, entrepreneurial people that Singaporeans need to be to order to be in time for the future. All innovation and enterprise will need energy and imagination, stamina, and guts – this applies to sports as it also applies to business and organisations, research and leadership.

Thank you Joseph, Mr Schooling, and Mrs Schooling for showing us that it is only by effort, determination, commitment, and the encouragement of family and community, that the impossible becomes possible. As Schooling declared: “‘I hope this shows people from small countries can do extraordinary things!’”

Majulah Singapura! Onward Singapore! Let us work together to Win with Honour for our lives, our families, our communities, our organisations and our nation!


Photo Credit: Reuters and

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