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Free General Paper (GP) Sample Essay: Individuals achieve sporting success, not nations. Discuss. (A-Levels 2020)

Sporting successes are accomplishments that are highly sought after by nations. When athletes earn medals in sporting competitions, entire nations celebrate. This is because sports people who represent their countries to compete send a strong message to the rest of the world. They represent their country’s virtues, values, and pride. Therefore, an athlete’s sporting success is synonymous with a country’s success. When sporting successes are achieved, it is usually not the effort of one person. A myriad of parties are typically involved. It is perhaps too myopic to simply assign credit to individuals and forget about the nations. There is compelling evidence to indicate that nations play significant roles too.

To be sure, achieving sporting success is by no means an easy feat. One’s talent would need to be recognized at an early age in order for development to start as soon as possible. The nurturing of a champion is a long and arduous process and typically take years before any form of success is achieved. Committed sports people who strive to be competitive often have to seek out opportunities to train overseas in order to become the best. Such endeavours require resources – resources that one may or may not have. Soccer is the most popular sport in Brazil and children take to the streets daily to play their favourite game. Given a culture that is fanatic about soccer and a population of over 200 million, we can safely assume that there are abundant soccer talents in the country. Some of the most prominent sports personalities such as Ronaldo, Pele and Ronaldinho have emerged from Brazil. However, these superstars are extremely rare. Brazil, a country mired in debt, continues to struggle with poverty. It is therefore understandable that the country may not have the required resources to develop all of its best talents. It is a cruel fact of life that most children playing on the streets of Brazil will never make it to become a professional soccer player. Children from countries such as Argentina and Mexico with a similar profile experience a similar fate. Even so, we cannot ignore the fact that some individuals to rise to become superstars in the sports industry. Without the support of the nation, how is that possible?

I believe luck plays a part. Many of these young players are scouted by professional scouts at a very young age. Professional soccer clubs, having a vested interest in the sport, are always on the lookout for young talents. They know and understand that these young talents are hungry for success. In such cases, individuals and private entities contribute the greatest to one’s accomplishments. Admittedly, the culture of a nation determines the level of support that sports personalities are likely to gain. However, support may still be lacking in areas of finance and infrastructure.

Individuals play a massive role in sporting success. Sports people are known to be determined and resilient. They do not give up easily even in the face of severe adversity. When the nation is not supportive, sports people can try to fund their own pursuits with savings or seek out sponsors. Joseph Schooling, an Olympic gold medalist from Singapore, went to the United States to train with the best. In an interview, his parents confessed that they had easily spent over a million dollars of their own money to support Joseph’s training. Likewise, Soh Rui Yong, a marathoner who is a SEA games gold medalist also trained in the United States and had to support himself while training and studying at the same time. Yong Yi Xiang, a young martial artist in Singapore, trained with the national team in China under austere conditions. Some leave their families behind while others defer their studies to train. Such ‘sacrifices’ set an exemplary example for aspiring sports people and the message is clear – pursue your dreams if you believe in them.

While individuals can make a great impact on their own careers, they may meet formidable obstacles without any form of external support. Talent is meaningless without having opportunities for such talents to develop and blossom. Nations as well as private institutions that recognize sports talents do provide the resources and infrastructure to ensure a country’s dominance in certain sports. A salient example would be China selecting young children to join Wu Shu training from a very young age. Young children are selected based on their physical attributes and their potential to do well in the sport. Once chosen, the children go through intensive and vigorous training to become world class athletes. Jet Li, an international celebrity, was a beneficiary of this system. He won over a dozen gold medals in Wu Shu before retiring and becoming an action star. Similarly, in many European nations such as Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Argentina, young talented players go for auditions at local youth clubs. Those who are selected are offered contracts. If they do well, they will be offered more lucrative contracts and go on to become professional players. Having these systems in place ensure that talented players get a chance to join and excel in sports, which is beneficial to both individuals and nations.

It does sometimes appear that governments only play a minor role in sporting success but I disagree. In many developed nations, specialized sports institutions are set up to nurture the talents of those who are gifted in sports. In Singapore, the Singapore Sports School is well equipped with cutting edge knowledge and equipment to aid and support aspiring sports individuals to pursue their interests. The advantages that the Sports School offers are apparent and lead to tangible results. In fact, it has become a point of contention. Some parents wonder if it is rational to include the Sports School in national sports competitions since they have the tendency to win by large margins in almost all sports! Although contentious, the presence of the Singapore Sports School provides irrefutable evidence that governments play some part in sporting success. Governments are also known to offer attractive monetary incentives to athletes who win medals and enhance national pride.

In conclusion, I am of the opinion that we should not define ‘nation’ so narrowly as to only include the governments. A nation consists of all its people in its entirety – its leaders, the public and private institutions, as well as private citizens. With this broad definition, I am more inclined to believe both individuals and nations play major roles in achieving sporting success. The individual contributes by giving his or her full dedication and even go as far as to deplete personal savings. Private institutions can help to develop young talents by setting up youth clubs and providing coaching expertise since they have a vested interest in keeping the sports industry healthy. Governments can assist by investing in infrastructure (e.g. building stadiums) and provide financial support or incentives to encourage better performances. For these reasons, I am hesitant to conclude that individuals achieve sporting success and not nations. Both nations and individuals play considerable roles that contribute to sporting successes. Both should work closely together to achieve the best results. Individuals should show their full commitment and nations should back individuals with adequate resources and infrastructure. Both parties benefit. Individuals acquire personal success and fame. In doing so, as representatives of their nations, they also end up portraying their nations in a positive light.

(1236 words)

This Essay is written based on the research framework taught by Mr. Chow.

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Gentle reminder: Please note that this essay is a demonstration of the end result once students acquire the necessary GP skills. Do not just copy the essay blindly. Plagiarism is inadvisable!