No extension of NS deferment for national swimmers Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen: Mindef
SINGAPORE – National swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen will enlist for national service (NS) as their long-term NS deferments have not been extended, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in a statement on Thursday (Sept 16).
The enlistment process for Schooling, 26, and Quah, 24, recommenced from Aug 31, when their deferments ended.
“As their deferment until 31 August 2021 has ended, both Mr Schooling and Mr Quah will proceed to fulfil their NS obligations, as agreed to when they applied for deferment,” said Mindef.
“They will be enlisted once the necessary pre-enlistment procedures have been completed.”
Schooling said on Thursday that he was “very grateful” for the Government’s “non-wavering support” in his swimming career, and said he would not have achieved the results he did, without deferring his NS.
“As a son of Singapore, I am honoured to serve my country,” he said. “More importantly, now more than ever, my family needs me. It is time for me to fulfil my filial duties.”
Quah also expressed his gratitude to the Government for “the privilege” of earlier deferments. “I am always thankful for the opportunity to represent Singapore – whether it is through enlisting or swimming,” he said.
Mindef reiterated in its statement that long-term deferment from full-time NS is granted “very selectively for exceptional sportsmen”, assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games and who are able to bring national pride to Singapore.
Each appeal for deferment is assessed based on stringent criteria in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), it added.
Other than the two swimmers, only one other individual in the last 15 years has been granted such long-term deferment – sailor Maximilian Soh, for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Schooling and Quah, whose deferments began in 2014 and 2015 respectively, enjoyed good outings at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Schooling won a historic first Olympic gold medal for Singapore in the men’s 100m butterfly while also qualifying for the 100m freestyle semi-final. Quah, meanwhile, qualified for the semi-finals of the 100m and 200m fly – placing in the top 16 of each event.