Training and support scheme for star athletes on right track

In the afterglow of Singapore's success at last month's SEA Games, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong is convinced that the Government's special sports scheme for potential medal winners is on the right track.

This High Performance Sports system, which gives training and support to develop star athletes, will be fortified further so that Singapore's athletes continue to excel in future SEA Games and on bigger stages such as the Asian Games and the Olympics.

Mr Wong made this commitment in Parliament yesterday when replying to Nominated MP Benedict Tan, a former national sailor, who asked about the ministry's plans to ensure a lasting legacy of the Games' success.

Team Singapore won 84 golds and a total of 274 medals at the recent SEA Games, its best haul ever at the biennial games.

Mr Wong identified three areas of the High Performance Sports system that will be strengthened.

First of all, the ministry will find more ways to improve the training and development of national athletes through coaching, high-performance programmes, and enhanced sports science and sports analytics support from the Singapore Sports Institute.

Second, the ministry's review of the Singapore Sports School will seek to improve the development of youth athletes.

Third, it will strive to increase the support of employers for national athletes juggling sports and work.

Mr Wong noted that the SEA Games drew strong community interest. More than half a million people attended the sporting events and activities, and broadcasts of the events on the SEA Games YouTube channel attracted more than 60 million views.

"We will build on that interest by... providing Singaporeans a wider array of sporting events to attend," said Mr Wong, citing the Fina World Junior Swimming Cham-pionship in October and the Netball Nations Cup in December.

The goal is to promote a culture of attending sporting events with friends and family and, in doing so, inspire people to lead a sporting lifestyle, he added.

To encourage this lifestyle, the ActiveSG programme, which was introduced in April last year, will be enhanced. About 815,000 people have signed up for it, Mr Wong said when replying to Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC).

This sports movement will conti-nue working with schools and employers to increase opportunities for sports participation in the community, he added.

Mr Wong also said he was most heartened by the strong show of the Singapore spirit at the SEA Games, highlighting the sportsmanship exhibited by national athletes, and volunteers who stayed back to clean the venues after events.

"We will strengthen sports volunteerism as one of the legacies of the SEA Games," he said.

The Asean Para Games, which Singapore will host in December, will be another opportunity for sports to rally the nation, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'Training and support scheme for star athletes on right track'. Print Edition | Subscribe