SINGAPORE: A total of 17 new Team Singapore athletes were awarded Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarships on Friday (Mar 11), bringing the total number of athletes under the scheme to 72.
Sprinter Shanti Pereira and rower Saiyidah Aisyah celebrated a first on Friday - for the first time, athletes from athletics and rowing are among the recipients of the spexScholarship, which was first introduced in 2013.
The aim of the scheme is to support elite athletes, who have shown potential to win medals at regional and global sporting events, such as the Asian Games and the Olympics.
Said national swimmer Quah Zheng Wen, a recipient of the spexScholarship: "The successes that I've had over the past few years when I was developing as a swimmer were due to a lot of rigorous and hard training.
“Now that I've set the baseline - I'm still working really hard - I think that it's becoming a little bit harder for me to improve and I've got to work on the finer aspects of my racing and my swimming. And I think that this scholarship plays a part in the enhancement of my swimming."
At last year's Southeast Asian Games, 53 of the scholars who took part won 77 out of the 286 medals garnered by Team Singapore. Of this figure, 43 were gold medals.
In addition, out of the current 72 scholarship holders, 14 have qualified for the upcoming Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, while others are on track to qualify.
Apart from help in improving their techniques, athletes also receive financial support such as a monthly stipend. Besides that, they receive assistance in their education, personal development and career after sports.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu said the Government will do what it can to support athletes' aspirations.
She said: "At the same time, we hope that you will give it your best to push the boundary of your sport, and be a good role model to the many aspiring athletes who are following your footsteps."
The scheme, which has a S$40 million funding, will run until 2018. The Singapore Sports Institute, which manages the scheme, said more than 40 per cent of that total amount has been disbursed to date.