Joseph Just Jets: In Issac’s Ideal International, Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Slightly Salty Singapore

…would have been an amusing (if not entirely accurate) headline to see in the papers today.

I tried to incorporate his full name into parts of the title (in the order JIS too!), so it became:

  1. Schooling Stuns Singapore
  2. Joseph Just (???): Schooling’s Swim Stuns Singapore
  3. Joseph Just (???): Schooling’s Stunning Swim (??) Singapore
  4. Joseph Just (???): Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  5. Joseph Just Jaunts: Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  6. Joseph Just Jets: Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  7.  Joseph Just Jets: In International (???), Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  8. Joseph Just Jets: In Ideal International, Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  9. Joseph Just Jets: Issac’s Ideal International, Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  10. Joseph Just Jets: In Issac’s Ideal International, Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Singapore
  11. Joseph Just Jets: In Issac’s Ideal International, Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Salty Singapore
  12. Joseph Just Jets: In Issac’s Ideal International, Schooling’s Spectacular Swim Stuns Slightly Salty Singapore

Alliteration takes some work and maybe a shorter title would’ve been more catchy, but I quite like how it turned out. The ‘slightly salty’ addition to the title is in reference to a few publications that didn’t like his attitude during interviews or something along the lines of that, only to be criticized online by the majority for their…well, salty attitude. Somewhat strangely, the calls for soul searching seem to have vanished,gone underground or been conveniently forgotten after his spectacular win, only to be replaced by apologies from the relevant publications.  Likely for now, sleeping dogs will continue to lie…

For the record though, many, if not all from Singapore, were most certainly neither salty nor bitter, but ecstatically rejoiced in his accomplishments. These heady couple of days, there seems to be a palpable sense of national pride (perhaps also a surge of patriotism) as if the random Singaporean down the street had something to do with Joeseph’s historic achievement. Undoubtedly many individuals played their role beyond his immediate family, the full extent to which we may never know. But at the same time, it’s interesting to see the vaunted unifying nature of sports on a society played out in real life: Swimming’s something that most people have experienced at least once, regardless of their socioeconomic class. Some perhaps swim on a regular basis, others less frequently so.

In this case, regardless of whether a random individual did or did not play any role in his victory, the nature of the accomplishment was something that many could relate to. You rarely see members of the public being similarly excited for other Singaporean luminaries even though they too exist and have brought Singapore’s name to places where one may not expect to see it. Probably that’s because most of these achievements are in areas that have much higher barriers to entry than that of a pool, so it’s passed off as ‘something some guy did’ – processed cerebrally, rather than emotionally accepted as ‘OMG HEDIDIT HEDIDIT HEDIDIT OMMGGG!!!!!’

Although the expected questions over how ‘Singaporean’ Joseph is have come in right on schedule (and these questions are good, for they force us to ask ourselves what precisely we want if we keep trying to draw the line between who they are and who we are), I doubt they’ll nullify much of the joy most Singaporeans feel (whether deservedly or not is, to quote Episode 7 of Star Wars, ‘A good question… for another time’. Quite a cop out :d).

On my end?

I like the picture that Straits Times used on the front page.

That pic right there? That’s the pic of a winner. It captures the moment when one realizes they have not just hit the very target that they had slugged towards for years in a sometimes lonely pursuit, but went straight through it. It captures the paradoxical nature of ‘beyond his wildest expectations’ and ‘right what he planned to do from the start’ quite well.

Sheer, elated, unbridled, joy and pride.

Well deserved, if an ordinary Singaporean might add.

A jolly good show. One destined to appear in Social Studies textbooks in the years to come. And there’s a good chance he may win more medals in the future as Phelps once did when he was younger, it would be interesting to see how Singapore reacts once the initial euphoria has died down.

 

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