Limited funding: How Singapore athletes cope

Don't focus on building only top facilities

Sarah Pang says it takes time to polish athletic gems, which means the authorities must keep the faith and have initiatives to groom talent.
Sarah Pang says it takes time to polish athletic gems, which means the authorities must keep the faith and have initiatives to groom talent.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SARAH PANG, 30, TENNIS

Receives $600 annually as a carded athlete

Achievements: In December 2012, she reached the women's doubles quarter-finals of the International Tennis Federation Pro Circuit tournament to earn her first career ranking point.

Dream: To play full-time on the Women's Tennis Association circuit.

"I've been on this journey for a long time and finally received my carding from Sport Singapore two years ago.

"I was a badminton player during my school days and only made the switch to tennis at 19.

"It was tough at the beginning because no one believed in me. It was honestly hard to find people with enough faith to give you a break.

"What I saw instead was a lot of doubt, and those moments were honestly very discouraging.

"But what many people don't realise is that developing a high-performance athlete is a very long process. We have world-class facilities here in Singapore but we also need to have enough faith to sustainably invest in software, invest in people.

"They can help lead society a lot more than a mere medal can.

"We have a lot of talent in Singapore, not just tennis players. The question is whether we decide to nurture that talent.

"There were many low moments for me but you have to keep believing in yourself.

"I've come to realise this passion of mine isn't just for me but also for the people who have been supporting me all this time.

"That's why I set up the TenniswithSarah page on Facebook. It's my way of investing back to others around me on this very personal journey and how one learns to overcome obstacles."

Jonathan Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2015, with the headline 'Don't focus on building only top facilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe