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Singapore Sailing Federation explores NS deferment for world champion kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder

The Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) is reportedly working closely with government bodies to assess the potential deferment of national service (NS) for Maximilian Maeder, world champion kitefoiler, who has been recognized as an athlete “who will need some support to work sports around NS obligations”.



SINGAPORE: The Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) is reportedly collaborating with relevant government entities to explore the possibility of deferring national service (NS) for Maximilian Maeder, the world champion kitefoiler.

Chung Pei Ming, the head of high performance and coaching at SSF highlighted that Maximilian has been recognized as an athlete “who will need some support to work sports around NS obligations”.

Both the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) are fully aware of this situation, she told the Singapore state media The Straits Times on Monday (9 Oct).

Looking ahead to Maximilian’s future beyond the 2024 Games, Chung emphasized that the decision regarding Maximilian’s deferment will depend on his performance at the Olympic Games.

Chung stated, “There’s nothing concrete, but MCCY and Mindef know of this athlete and that maybe some arrangement might be needed for him.”

While underscoring the importance of national service over sports, Chung acknowledged that when the time comes, Maximilian will fulfill his NS obligation.

When asked about his NS obligations, Maximilian expressed gratitude for the substantial support he receives from the SSF and the Singapore Sport Institute in advocating for a deferment.

He conveyed his trust in the decisions made by the ministry and federation, stating, “All I can do is place my faith in the people that support me and respect any decision that the ministry and federation make.”

Turning 18 in September 2024

Maximilian, who recently secured victory in the first leg of the Kitefoil World Series in Austria and earned an Asian Games gold medal in Hangzhou less than two weeks prior, is on the verge of turning 18 in September 2024, just a month after the Paris Olympics.

His remarkable journey to the Paris Olympics began when he earned his spot in August, following his world title win at the Sailing World Championships in The Hague, Netherlands.

Prior to this achievement, Maximilian had already secured his third consecutive gold at the Formula Kite Youth World Championships in Gizzeria, Italy in July.

On Sunday, October 8th, Maximilian achieved another remarkable victory in Traunsee, Austria, where he emerged as the top performer, surpassing competitors like Germany’s Flo Gruber and Cyprus’ Denis Taradin.

Following this success, his next destination is Cagliari, Italy, where he will participate in the second leg of the Kitefoil World Series, commencing on Wednesday (11 Oct).

Subsequently, Maximilian plans to take a brief break in Singapore before gearing up for the series’ final leg in Zhuhai, China, scheduled for November 29th. His last competition for the year 2023 will be the Youth Sailing World Championships in Buzios, Brazil, set to take place on December 8th.

Mindef’s “exceptional sportsmen” deferments

Mindef has previously granted long-term deferments to “exceptional sportsmen” with the potential to bring pride to Singapore by winning medals at prestigious international competitions like the Olympics.

Notable instances of athletes receiving such deferments include the well-known swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen.

Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen initially received deferments in 2014 and 2015, respectively, in preparation for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where Schooling achieved a historic 100m butterfly title.

Their deferments were subsequently extended to accommodate training for the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympics and concluded in August 2021, following less-than-ideal performances at the Tokyo Games.

Quah has already completed his full-time NS, while Schooling is currently serving.

In July 2022, Singapore’s Defence Minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen, announced Mindef’s readiness to allow more national athletes to temporarily interrupt their full-time national service to train for international competitions.

However, he stressed that athletes taking time off for training must still fulfil their complete NS obligations afterwards and meet their duties satisfactorily.

The issue of national service (NS) and its implications for national athletes gained renewed attention in May of the previous year, triggered by swimmer Joseph Schooling’s remarks about the difficulties of balancing NS duties with his swimming career. He advocated for a national dialogue to effectively manage expectations of athletes fulfilling NS.

Dr Ng emphasized the vital role of public support for NS, underlining that appeals from sports and art talents must meet a rigorous standard.

He stressed that deferments and disruptions are only granted when adequately justified and sparingly, with Mindef evaluating each request individually.

Consideration includes an applicant’s past accomplishments and their potential to excel in international competitions.

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