Table tennis star Li Jiawei brought the curtains down to her competitive career last week when she announced her retirement from international table tennis. Along with the announcement, she also confirmed reports that she will be returning to
China where her husband, Mr Li
Chao, and their three-year-old son Terry are living.
Since the announcement, some Singaporeans have been complaining about Li’s decision not to stay in
and claim that she is just another mercenary who came to Singapore for the money. My
reactions to all these whining is, “yes, so what?”
Li has represented
Singapore since 1996. She flew Singapore colors at four Olympic Games and won a
silver and bronze medal in the women's team event at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games. Outside the two
Olympic medals, she also won 14 South-east Asia
Games and seven Commonwealth Games gold medals. She has been without question
one of the more successful sporting foreign talent we had imported into Singapore.
But seriously does anyone truly believe she would stay in
Even though she received citizenship in 1999, she like most foreign talents in
was always going to return to her home country once her “work” here is done. It
is expected and I for one do not understand why there are any Singaporeans who
can criticize Li for doing something so obvious. Sure there are some like
Alexandra Duric who fully intend to stay in Singapore after retirement but they
are the exceptions, not the rule. The vast majority of the foreign talents in Singapore fully
intend to return to their countries. Li is just one of them and this is
something Singaporeans already know and realized long ago. So why all this
complaining? This is one thing I don’t understand about Singaporeans. Why in
the world do we complain about things we already expect?
Li came to
in 1996 after being talent-scouted in China
and received citizenship in 1999 for the sole purpose of representing Singapore
internationally. She has done that, even once reaching No.3 in the world
ranking. Take comfort and joy in an athlete that has served Singapore with
distinction for 17 years. Staying in Singapore long-term? Don’t ask for
something that wasn’t ever going to happen.