I’m sure your news feeds, even if you’re Malaysian, have been flooded with news of Singapore’s very first gold medal in the Olympic events.
There’s a chance that it could have been Malaysia’s glory to have, but we lost it.
Don’t worry I’m not here to harp on the fact that Joseph Schooling’s mother is Malaysian.
What I will bring to your attention is this, a small piece of news reported about a decade ago, about a Perak schoolboy who broke the records for the 50m butterfly and 100m backstroke in the Group 4 category in the Milo-Pram National Junior Age-Group Aquatics Championship at Paroi Swimming Complex.
His name? Joseph Schooling.
Further Googling reveals nothing else, but we do know that the Olympic gold winner’s mother, May Schooling, is also from Perak.
Perhaps he was over here for a holiday or a visit and decided to join in the competition. According to the 2016 rules for the Milo-Pram competition, foreign applications are possible.
Therefore, it could simply have been a mistake of the headlines, calling him a Perak schoolboy, or coincidentally, we have another young boy with the name Joseph Schooling in Malaysia who also happened to be an exceptional swimmer at that time (I use the past tense because if so, where is he now?).
[Editor’s Note: According to a Chinese news website, whenever on holiday in Ipoh with his family, Joseph would train there. He has represented Perak’s swimming team where he broke the national record for the under-12 division.]
Whether or not this Joseph Schooling and the Olympic champion are one and the same, the reality still stands.
Did we lose him? And even if he wasn’t one, how many “Joseph”s have we lost?
We know there’s a very real problem of talent drain in our country.
We know that so many leave to seek greener pastures in foreign lands.
How can our country continue to grow if all we see are people packing up their bags and deciding enough is enough?
In international arenas, in all fields, we see the newspapers burst with pride when there’s even the remotest link of someone being Malaysian.
I believe that we Malaysians do have the seeds of greatness within us.
I believe there are bright young minds in our midst that can move and shake the world.
However, when that actually happens, will they, like Joseph Schooling, dedicate their victory to their country?
Can they truly say, with pride, that Malaysia has helped them grow into what they became, has helped them reach the true potential within?
I submit to you, gentle reader, this question. Is Malaysia doing enough for its young people and helping them reach their full potential?
I wish the answer could be yes.
Feature Image Credit: http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.my