Limited funding: How Singapore athletes cope

Complaints not the way to get NSA to back you

Soh Rui Yong, who won gold at the Singapore SEA Games, says athletes must be proactive in seeking monetary help, whether via jobs or sponsorship.
Soh Rui Yong, who won gold at the Singapore SEA Games, says athletes must be proactive in seeking monetary help, whether via jobs or sponsorship.ST FILE PHOTO

SOH RUI YONG, 24, ATHLETICS,

Receives $12,000 annually as a carded athlete

Achievements: Marathon champion at 2015 SEA Games

Dream: Become the first Singaporean marathoner to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics

"Nobody ever said being an Olympian is going to be easy, and the struggle is real both on and off the track.

"I've seen athletes just sit back and complain on social media or to their friends about the lack of funding from their national sports association (NSA).

"Besides the allowance given to me from Singapore Athletics for my SEA Games gold, which I am extremely thankful for, My coach, Ian Dobson, also receives $500 a month for coaching me.

"This lasts until June next year.

"I require $20,000 for additional expenses to hopefully get me to Brazil. I refuse to ask my family or friends for any money for this pursuit. It should not be a burden on them. I don't believe in charity.

"Complaining about your NSA is not the way to get them to support you. All that time spent complaining can be used to seek opportunities, to find jobs or sponsorships that can supplement their income while they pursue their sport.

"I have thought about quitting... especially when my peers are spending their school holidays having fun, partying in Europe while I'm slogging through the snow or struggling to breathe while training in the mountains.

"But when I won the SEA Games gold this year... I knew it was all worth it.

"To others like me out there, don't let your funding or your fate rest solely in the hands of your NSA or SportSG. Take the initiative to chase your dreams, keep working, and never let anyone tell you that you cannot do it."

Jonathan Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2015, with the headline 'Complaints not the way to get NSA to back you'. Print Edition | Subscribe