$200,000 Boost for budding athletes

SSA president Lee Kok Choy (centre) receives a $200,000 cheque from May and Colin Schooling. The amount is 20 per cent of the money Joseph Schooling received from SNOC's awards programme.
SSA president Lee Kok Choy (centre) receives a $200,000 cheque from May and Colin Schooling. The amount is 20 per cent of the money Joseph Schooling received from SNOC's awards programme. ST PHOTO: CHUA SIANG YEE

Part of Schooling's prize money for winning Olympic gold to help athletes with potential

Last month, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling called for more financial support to be given to local athletes aspiring to win medals at major sporting meets.

After all, his parents Colin and May famously spent more than $1 million on his Olympic dream when they sent him to train in the United States at the age of 14.

The swimmer, now 21, saw part of his wish fulfilled when he gave $200,000 to a special fund set aside by the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) for development of the sport, which includes supporting promising athletes.

The money is from the $1 million he received from the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) multi-million dollar awards programme (MAP), which mandates athletes give 20 per cent to their national sports associations (NSAs) "for future training and development".

The SNOC does not dictate how NSAs use their share of the awards.

May, who presented a cheque to SSA president Lee Kok Choy with Colin at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, said: "We hope it'd give the young ones hope that if they train hard enough and they have the potential nobody will be denied (funding).

"We don't want anybody to go through what we've gone through if the kid has potential."

POTENTIAL GAME CHANGER

We don't want anybody to go through what we've gone through if the kid has potential.

MAY SCHOOLING , mother of Olympic swimming champion Joseph, on funding that supports promising athletes. She and husband Colin spent more than $1 million on their son's Olympic dream.

Existing funding schemes include the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship), which was launched in 2013. It gives athletes a monthly stipend as well as sports science support.

To apply for the spexScholarship, athletes must, among other criteria, "demonstrate potential for further development" and "be in medal contention for major Games and world-level events".

May said she hopes the SSA funds will help athletes who do not have results "but we know they have potential and (find it) hard to justify for (a) spexScholarship".

Lee agreed that should be a function of the fund. He said: "Determining potential is a struggle we always have, and we're trying to be better at it."

A committee comprising people within and outside the SSA will be formed to manage the fund, which also includes the $525,100 raised at a golf fundraiser headlined by the Olympic champion last month.

More details about the fund, including the committee members and how money is disbursed, will be revealed in a month's time, said Lee. He added that while the funds would cover all disciplines under the SSA's purview, more will be directed to swimming given its "relative size and scale".

Other aquatic disciplines the SSA oversees include water polo, diving, synchronised swimming and open water swimming.

Lee, who is into his second two-year term as SSA president, said: "It's not just about targeting individual athletes. We also want to use the funds to build infrastructure and capabilities.

"Ultimately, increasing the quality of support and coaching gives everyone a better chance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline '$200,000 Boost for budding athletes'. Print Edition | Subscribe