Time to pitch in, Corporate Singapore
Corporate Singapore must step up as the next generation aspires to be like Schooling
Joseph Schooling's epic win at the 2016 Rio Olympics after beating three of the world's top butterfliers, including the legendary Michael Phelps, lit a bonfire in Singapore.
It fired up the young and old, from ordinary folks and politicians to Cabinet Ministers and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and they openly expressed their jubilation in social media, newspapers and on television.
It was big enough for Parliament to move a motion recognising Schooling's record-breaking achievement yesterday and the Ministry of Defence to extend his National Service commitment until after the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Big businesses did not miss a beat and paid big bucks to place advertisements to honour the 21-year-old swimmer and offered discounts on their products.
The buzz of the Schooling euphoria will linger on in the country for quite a while.
But for how long?
A FLASH IN THE PAN
Will Schooling end up as another Anthony Nesty, who beat a swimming giant in similar fashion, touching the wall ahead of the United States' Matt Biondi by one-hundredths of a second at the 1988 Seoul Olympics?
Nesty's gold in South Korea still remains Suriname's one and only Olympic gold medal to date. No other world-beating athlete emerged from that country.
If Singapore is to seize and build upon Schooling's win, then his story must go beyond Rio de Janeiro.
Because his work in nudging our current crop of athletes to hunt down their dreams has only just begun.
Parliament's recognition and Mindef's deferment of his National Service are moves in this direction.
But these are not enough.
The real work that must start now is scouring the land for little Josephs and Josephines who are struck by what Schooling did and dream of being him one day.
They and their parents are out there and it is a matter of spotting them.
Not all, though, are fortunate to have the financial resources of Colin and May Schooling to fund their child's dream.
It cost them more than $1 million to walk with Schooling every step of the way for 15 years.
Billionaire tycoon Peter Lim has an Olympic scholarship to help financially challenged young talents to pursue their sporting dreams.
Sport Singapore has several schemes in place, from spexCarding to spexGLOW, to develop and train young elite athletes for the Olympics and major international competitions.
But theirs cannot be the only efforts.
If the entire nation was electrified by Schooling's victory, then it must be all hands on deck to find and groom the next Singapore world champions, not only in swimming, but also across all sports.
And a key piece of this national puzzle is Singapore's corporate community - from Singapore Airlines, DBS, UOB, OCBC to ST Electronics, Singtel and StarHub.
It is heartening to see some of them celebrating Schooling's gold medal with newspaper advertisements and retail incentives.
But if they are to play an important part in Singapore's sporting success, it is most important for them to be there at the beginning of an athlete's journey, when the path is still uncertain, long and a rough toil.
When Corporate Singapore, along with everyone else, pitch in, then Schooling's work to inspire the current and next generation of athletes will be a concrete one.
Just as his idol, Phelps, did for him and athletes around the world.
- Ian De Cotta is a media consultant and writes regularly at his website iandecotta.com