Swim queen Tao Li is set to be the highest rewarded Singaporean athlete at this year's SEA Games with an expected haul of $40,000.
According to Singapore National Olympic Council Secretary-General Chris Chan, slightly over half a million dollars will be given to gold medal winning individuals and teams this year.
Tao Li won four individual and three relay events in Palembang.
Based on the various caps in place, she will receive $10,000 for her first individual gold medal and $5,000 each for the next two individual golds. There is no reward for her fourth individual gold.
Her relay teams share $15,000 for each of the three gold medals garnered at the games.
Tao Li is also expected to get another $10,000 for breaking two SEA Games records, the 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly. However, due to formality, officials here will have to wait for Indonesian organisers to send a letter officially confirming the new records.
The final amount Tao Li gets will depend on how the relay teams decide to share their reward, although it's usually divided equally, according to the Singapore Sports Council.
She and the other gold medalists will receive their money early next year.
But athletes who win gold at the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games can expect their reward money, sponsored by Tote Board and Singapore Pools, to shrink.
“We review this every four years and really we can’t take for granted what is given out,” Chan told Yahoo! Singapore, adding that athletes are better funded and supported these days.
Singapore’s swim team manager Aloysious Yeo said, “In the Asian Games level, you have very high standards and teams like China to beat, and to reach that level and win a gold, it’s not easy. Taking away say 10 or 20 per cent of the reward money is … not easy. I can’t say if it’s right or wrong – they must have their own reasons of wanting to reduce the amount.”
But Yeo stressed that the reduction in reward money doesn’t mean the swimmers’ performance will be affected.
“They don’t do it for money. It’s for country and passion,” he said.