Fifteen new Team Singapore athletes received the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) on Friday (17 March) in their quest to represent the nation and perform well at major international sporting events.
Four sport disciplines – canoe paddle, diving, para-archery and para-athletics – are represented for the first time.
With the new additions, there are 67 scholars in the current cohort including 28 renewals from the previous batch.
Among the new spexScholars are twin divers Mark and Timothy Lee. They will be participating in the FINA Diving Grand Prix in Puerto Rico, Singapore National Diving Championships, Asian Diving Cup in Macau, and World Championships in Budapest, as well as the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Timothy said the spexScholarship will help the siblings towards their goal of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He said, “Going for these competitions is costly but necessary in helping us achieve peak performances and attain what we set out to do.
“The spexScholarship will lift the financial burden off our shoulders and help us concentrate on the competitions. It is also very encouraging and reassuring to know that the SSI (Singapore Sports Institute) team will be helping us in our journey to the Olympics.”
Created in 2013, the spexScholarship aims to support high performance sports (HPS) athletes in full time training. The programme has had a total of 111 spexScholars to date. Notable athletes in the programme include swimmers Joseph Schooling, Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh and rower Saiyidah Aisyah.
Schooling won Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Games in Rio while Yip and Goh achieved medal success in the 2016 Paralympics. Aisyah became the first Singaporean rower to qualify for the Olympics last year.
New spexScholarship recipient, shooter Teo Shun Xie, said that the support will enable her to train full time with an eye on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics. Her decision to apply for the scholarship was partly based on her performance in Rio. “You start to see results and just want to push yourself more and get to the peak, wherever that is,” she said to the media gathered at the award ceremony at National Youth Sports Institute Satellite (NYSI) @ Kallang.
Teo added that she is prepared to leave her job as a researcher in order to train full time. Her goals leading to Tokyo include defending her 10m pistol golds at both the SEA Games and the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Under the scheme’s financial support, athletes get a monthly stipend of between $1,200 and $8,400 each. The scheme also covers their coaching costs, as well as training, competition and equipment costs. In addition, the SSI provides sports science and rehabilitation services to the athletes.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth recently announced that it was investing $50 million over the next five years for its HPS system, and launched the One Team Singapore matching grant of up to $50 million with dollar-for-dollar matching for donations.
This is over and above an existing annual budget of $60 million that SportSG invests in the current HPS system, including funding to the National Sports Associations (NSAs).
The new scholars are:
Mark Lee (diving)
Timothy Lee (diving)
Lionel Khoo (swimming)
Nicholle Toh (swimming)
Pang Sheng Jun (swimming)
Ryan Ng (badminton)
Tan Wei Han (badminton)
Terry Hee (badminton)
Xatia Lim (canoe paddle)
Suhairi Suhani (athletics-disability sports)
Nur Syahidah Alim (archery-disability sports)
Berthier Amita (fencing)
Tan Sze En (gymnastics)
Teo Shun Xie (shooting)
Zhou Yihan (table tennis)