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PM Lee commends rower Saiyidah Aisyah for determination, pioneering spirit

The sportswoman convinced Sport Singapore to include rowing in the 2015 SEA Games despite the sport being originally left out, and this dedication to the sport's future should be an inspiration to others, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to national rower Saiyidah Aisyah Mohammed Ra'fee, who won the Inspiring Young Achiever Award 2014 on Tuesday night.

Mr Lee said in his speech at the Berita Harian awards ceremony on Tuesday: "When rowing was at first left out of the 2015 SEA Games which we will be hosting, she convinced Sport Singapore to include it. I think she must have been very convincing, and I think Aisyah was driven, not just because she was rowing for herself, but for the future of the sport in Singapore."

He also hoped the rower will encourage more youths to continue her pioneering spirit.

Ms Aisyah took no-pay leave last year to train in Sydney, and had to pay for most of the training expenses and rowing equipment. Her efforts paid off when she won the gold medal in the 2,000m women's lightweight single sculls competition at the 2013 South-East Asian Games in Myanmar. Her gold medal was the first for Singapore rowing since 1997.

Achievements aside, Ms Aisyah said the ability to inspire others is almost as important as winning competitions.

"This award means a lot to me because it means I have the ability to actually inspire other youths, especially in the Malay community to go out there and achieve their dreams as well,” said the 26-year-old.

“For me it is a big thing because, as an athlete, all I wanted to do was just to win, and I did not realise that all these things come with that gold medal. It is a very good thing because this personal satisfaction became something that not only motivates me, but fellow Singaporeans as well."