Dear Joseph,

We don’t know each other, our dads do.

Today is the day you touched down in Singapore after winning Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal.

We all watched you with bated breath.

You poured your heart out in that pool. You gave it your all, & it stirred something, deep in the hearts of every one of us.

I watched the news today which showed you… greeted by the hundreds.

I am happy for you. I respect you. I am grateful for what you did.

But more than that, I feel sorry for you, Joseph.

I feel sorry because even having not known you and your struggles, it is as clear as day that you lacked our country’s full support throughout those many years of training to reach that defining moment in Rio 2016. We did not train you. We cannot take credit for that.

Your dad had to spend close to SGD$700,000 over the course of many years to support you, for your training and instruction and coaching, because he believed in your dream when we did not.

I see all the people who are suddenly responsible for your gold medal. I feel sorry because people who would not have given you the time of day are now rushing to ride on the coat tails of your victory. A wise person once said… “if you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” We were absent during your struggles. And yet, we are present during your spoils.

What you did was remarkable. You have, indeed, made history. So yes, we can be happy for you. We can be proud of what greatness you have achieved in the name of your country. But a hero’s parade does not and will not change the fact that we do not deserve you. To truly deserve a victory would imply sacrifice, and we have not sacrificed. Your mom and dad did.

It’s no small wonder you mentioned during your 91.3 FM radio interview that winning this isn’t how you expected to feel…it feels different. Something has changed in Singapore. You can feel it. I can too. The question is, where do we go from here?

We NEED to believe in the talent of our Singaporeans. Our Anthony Chens, our Royston Tans, and all the people you haven’t heard of yet. Our athletes, actors, dancers & musicians, anyone and everyone that has a dream and a talent to make that dream real should not have to prove themselves out there in front of the world before gaining the approval and applause of his or her home country. Our talents won’t think the grass is greener on the other side if we as a society make a CHOICE to water our own damn grass. Let’s take care of our own.

So to end off, do enjoy your rest, Joseph. We don’t know each other, but I know you’ll keep inspiring people to do better. So will I.

Welcome home, champ.

Luke Lee

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