SINGAPORE: May Schooling calls it the largest cheque she has ever written, and the S$200,000 that she and husband Colin handed over to Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) president Lee Kok Choy on Wednesday (Dec 7) will go to a new fund to help develop aquatic sports in Singapore.
The handover of the sizeable donation came two weeks after Joseph Schooling received his S$1 million reward for winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro, a historic first for Singapore in the Games.
Joseph, 21, is the first person to receive the top award as part of the Singapore National Olympic Council’s Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP Awards).
The MAP Awards reward Singaporean athletes who medal at major Games, including the Olympics, Asian, Commonwealth and Southeast Asian Games, and come with a condition of a mandatory 20 per cent donation to the athlete’s national sport association.
The SSA has elected to add the S$200,000 to a new special fund aimed at helping up-and-coming youth athletes.
With a working title of the SGP Fund, representing Sustainability, Growth and People, the fund received its first contribution of S$525,100 from the golf fund-raiser headlined by Joseph during his trip home last month.
At the event, the swim star had spoken out on the need for greater support for budding athletes, using his own journey as an example. His parents had invested more than US$1 million in his training, which included sending him to high school in Florida.
Speaking to the media after the simple cheque handover ceremony, May said she hopes the new fund will help to plug the gaps and give athletes that represent Singapore greater peace of mind.
“We’re trying to change the landscape of how sports should be,” she said, citing examples of little improvements which can help athletes perform better.
“We are honoured to have the opportunity to give back to the association, and have Joseph leave a legacy for aspiring athletes. We hope that this will be a form of inspiration and encouragement for our local athletes to excel in the sport and achieve great results for our nation.”
Regular fund-raisers will be held to keep the fund going, while all future MAP Awards donations will also go towards the fund.
The SSA is setting up an independent committee to administer the new special fund, with people from within and outside the swimming fraternity as members. Lee said this is so that the committee can be as neutral as possible, and decisions on the fund are taken in a fair and transparent manner.
He also confirmed that the committee's make-up and how the fund will be administered will be revealed as early as next month.
He added: “The amount donated by the Schoolings is unprecedented and will help in the development of the sport, from long-term athlete development to enhancing the standard of coaching.
“We appreciate the Schoolings' support and will have regular meetings with them to account for their donation.”