Sunday 21 August 2016

Celebrating Joseph Schooling: Victory parade accidents, leftover fried carrot cake & free McNuggets

And this is why we can’t have nice things.

When it was announced last week that a victory parade for Singapore’s first Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling would be held, some were quick to criticise the move as insensitive to Singaporeans who were still competing in Rio.

As someone commented online:
“Why don’t they wait for all the Singaporean Olympic athletes to return then do it together? They did not put in any less effort to compete for Singapore.

“Oops, I forgot we are a society that focuses on meritocracy. No medal or glory, no talk.”
But did many care? Not the thousands who thronged the parade route and pit stops such that crowd control became a problem.

A parent at the Marine Terrace market pit stop recounted:
“My kids and I were there and we left angrily. There were many kids standing at the front and the adults were the ones pushing everyone.

“Luckily, I held on to my kids. If not, you would see many kids and people being stepped over!”
And you thought the Pokemon Go crowds were crazy.

Even Schooling couldn’t manage more than a mouthful of his beloved fried carrot cake because of the mob.

So much left over! It would have been a waste to just throw the food away. Did anyone eat it and maybe have a taste of his DNA?

As for the parade itself, which had Schooling on an open-top double-decker bus, it caused two road accidents and Schooling confessed to being responsible for one of them.

The 21-year-old swimmer told
“So I was eating a pear in the bus downstairs. I was trying to make funny faces at this lady with her two kids through the glass and they’re freaking out. They’re like ‘oh my god!’

“So this lady tries to get her kids to wave at me and she has her steering wheel turned towards the bus. So when the bus starts moving, she gasses it and her car goes straight into our bus and rams — T-bones our bus.

“And I was like ‘oh my god!’ That just happened. I just caused an accident.”
(For those unfamiliar with the University of Texas student’s Americanisms, “gassing it” means stepping on the accelerator and “T-bone” in this case doesn’t mean the steak but a vehicle colliding with another at a right angle.)

Someone even questioned the wisdom of putting Schooling on top of an open-top bus in the first place:
“The weather is so hot lately. Are you guys trying to ‘barbecue’ him?”
Well, he does look pretty tasty.

And on top of all that, some were unhappy that the parade was on a Thursday:
“So kiasu… want public to support but conduct it on week day. Why no authority to ask companies to give half-day leave to line the street to support a historical event. Really shameful!”
And this is why we can’t have nice things like a victory parade.

When on Monday, Parliament “moved a motion” to congratulate Schooling, it also had the chance to move a motion to declare Thursday (or any other day) a public holiday to honour him even more.

But it passed the Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill instead.

Safe to say, more people would have preferred a Let’s Have A National Holiday Because We Just Won Our First Olympic Gold Medal Bill.

There wouldn’t be a seven-hour debate over that.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin probably spoiled the market by suggesting a National Schooling Day where “everyone will have to go to school” because he couldn’t resist the pun.

And this is why we can’t have nice things like an extra public holiday.

We can only envy Fiji, which did declare a public holiday after winning its first Olympic medal by beating Great Britain in the rugby sevens final to get the gold.

That is, if we can find Fiji on the map.

But even though we didn’t get a holiday, McDonald’s offered six free chicken McNuggets to the first 50 customers at all its outlets (excluding iFly, Resorts World Sentosa, Lido, Gardens by The Bay and institutional stores) on Monday from 11am.

Why free McNuggets, you ask, and not, say, a free Fillet-O-Fish? Since, you know, Schooling swims like a fish.

According to McDonald’s, it was “to celebrate our hero and golden boy Joseph Schooling, on winning his own golden nugget at Rio”.

So now you know why athletes bite their medals when they pose for photographs.

Ummm… because the medals resemble chicken nuggets?

They should start giving out curry sauce with those McMedals.

Trouble is, McDonald’s and other companies promoting themselves while congratulating Schooling are not allowed to do this.

The Singapore National Olympic Council told The New Paper:
“While we celebrate Joseph’s victory, we must also stand guided by the rules and guidelines protecting the assets and marks of the Games.

“Henceforth, we would like to advise commercial entities to comply with these rules and not infringe or exploit the assets for commercial purposes.”
And this is why we can’t have nice things like free McNuggets.

Perhaps everyone took Schooling a little too literally when he said to the crowd welcoming him home at Changi Airport last Monday: “This is not for me. It is for all of you.

Too bad the International Olympic Council isn’t as generous.

But on his part, Schooling has been true to his word, sharing the greatest moment of his life with all Singaporeans on the victory parade and elsewhere last week with a ready and winning smile.

And that’s a nice thing we do have.

— Published in The New Paper, 21 August 2016

EARLIER: Ode to 5039: I wasn't as fast as Joseph Schooling to buy 4D