Matthew Goh could have been a potential bronze medallist at the IAAF World Juniors

The men’s long jump final at the ongoing IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada, was concluded last night.

South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga won it with 7.99m. Eusebio Caraces of Spain was second with 7.90m while Stewart Taylor of Canada took the bronze with 7.63m.

You can read their post-competition interviews here

It makes you wonder whether young Matthew Goh could have snared a podium finsih if he had been allowed to defer his national service and take part in the World Juniors.

After all, he did set his national record of 7.62m at last December’s South-east Asia Games, and under national jumps coach Valeri Obidko, has been known to improve on his distances by 0.2m every year.

Matthew’s father did appeal for his son to be allowed to compete at the World Juniros and to enlist for national service after that, but Mindef turned it down because “the circumstances were not exceptional to warrant granting of deferment.”

You can read Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s response to Nominated Member of Parliament Joscelin Yeo on Mindef’s reasons for not granting Matthew’s request for a three-month deferment here.

Yes, one can always argue that one can never tell if Matthew can set a new national record at the World Juniors, or even finish among the top-three. But then again, I wouldn’t have bet against him doing so given his annual rate of improvement, and the young man’s steely determination.

This is another example of us shooting ourselves in the foot when it comes to Singapore sports. We will never know until we try, and yet we are not willing to give it a try.

And I guess this is why Singapore sport can never go far.

And when we fail to reach the heights, we lament, beat our breasts and complain that our sportsmen don’t have the hunger or the talent. And then we proceed to flood our sports with foreign exports.

And when these naturalised citizens go on to win top honours, and when the general public doesn’t quite share in the manufactured joy, the authorities then slam the people for being ungracious, and for failing to recognise the sacrficies and hard work that these naturalised citizens have put in to achieve sporting glory for Singapore.

Well, I am sure Matthew was also willing top put in the sacrifices and hours of hard work too.

He just wasn’t given the chance because “the circumstances were not exceptional enough to warrant the granting of deferment”.


Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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6 thoughts on “Matthew Goh could have been a potential bronze medallist at the IAAF World Juniors

  1. […] Service – The Singapore Sports Fan Says: Matthew Goh could have been a potential bronze medallist at the IAAF World Juniors [Thanks […]

  2. […] Service – The Singapore Sports Fan Says: Matthew Goh could have been a potential bronze medallist at the IAAF World Juniors [Thanks […]

  3. Dennis says:

    As a Singaporean male who has done NS and is still doing a lot of NS as an NSman, I am very disappointed with Mindef’s decision not to release Matthew Goh. While I agree with the principles enunciated by the DPM, I think the decision is questionable. I agree with the Singapore Sports Fan’s comments and views. Based on the principles and the example brought up by the DPM, I think Matthew should in fact qualify for deferment. Over the years, I have known of many people who have deferred NS to go to university first. These people have parents who could afford the bond. They didn’t have any good reason of “equity” to defer otherwise. And what about certain priviliged PRs or even naturalised citizens whose children have, for some reasons, not been subjected to the usual PR or citizenship requirements and strict NS requirements? That aside, I see no inequity of Matthew being allowed to defer to serve Singapore as a national athete striving for honours for the country. That is national service too. And anyway he will be back to the SAF to serve sooner or later.

  4. concerned says:

    It’s too simplistic to assume Matthew would have won a medal had he gotten his NS deferment, and it’s too simplistic to assume Matthew would have gone on to improve at the rate of 0.2s every year. We all know what as one reaches the top, it gets tougher to improve by huge margins.

    It’s not like Mindef doesnt have their reasons to dismiss his request. Mindef has granted deferment for a number of athletes, the most recently for a swimmer who is a multiple national record holder

    • singaporesportsfan says:

      Yes, you have a point there. But I am a firm believer in the adage “You never know until you try.”
      And now we’re left wondering what could have been.

  5. Calvin says:

    this goes to show why fandi shouldn’t let his 2 sons represent singapore! anyway nice article, poor matt, i believe that he could have won something. oh well.. tough luck i guess

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