Flexible study scheme allows balanced focus

Footballer Gerald Ting and fencer Tatiana Wong are among those who will benefit from the move. He will study for a Nitec in Fitness Training, while she will take an extra year to complete her IB-Diploma programme.
Footballer Gerald Ting and fencer Tatiana Wong are among those who will benefit from the move. He will study for a Nitec in Fitness Training, while she will take an extra year to complete her IB-Diploma programme.PHOTO: SINGAPORE SPORTS SCHOOL
Footballer Gerald Ting and fencer Tatiana Wong are among those who will benefit from the move. He will study for a Nitec in Fitness Training, while she will take an extra year to complete her IB-Diploma programme.
Footballer Gerald Ting and fencer Tatiana Wong are among those who will benefit from the move. He will study for a Nitec in Fitness Training, while she will take an extra year to complete her IB-Diploma programme.PHOTO: SINGAPORE SPORTS SCHOOL

After the heartbreak of narrowly missing out on competing at the SEA Games on home soil this year, Singapore Sports School (SSP) student Ong Yong Qing has set his sights on the next one in 2017.

There is just one issue: It will very likely clash with examinations for the 16-year-old shooter, who is on the SSP's International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

Now, with the ability to extend his studies for up to four years instead of completing it within two, he is more certain of being able to focus on preparing for the Games.

The SSP is one of just 12 institutions internationally to provide this option.

"In two years' time, there is the SEA Games and if I were to take the two-year programme, it would clash with the final exams, so I don't think I would prepare well for the SEA Games," said Yong Qing, who welcomed the ability to balance training and school work.

"My final goal is the Olympic Games, so if I can't even go for the SEA Games, I think it'd be very difficult to go for the Olympics.

"The four-year programme can help me manage my time better so I can cope with both studies and sports."

Yong Qing is one of several student-athletes who have chosen to take up the extended option.

Fencer Tatiana Wong, 16, has chosen to extend her programme to three years. She said: "I just want to focus on the SEA Games, and from there, I'll take it slow, so three years is just the right time frame for me to achieve my goal.

"Education can wait but sports less so, because once you reach a certain age, you can't peak any more, so it's more important to prioritise sports."

For those who require a more vocational approach, the SSP is working with ITE College Central to pioneer a class made up of student-athletes.

Compared to previous classes, the new sports class will allow for greater flexibility in wrapping classes around training.

It is a luxury that bowler Muhammad Jaris Goh wished he had. He graduated from the ITE course in 2013 as valedictorian and is currently enrolled in the Republic Polytechnic-SSP Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management programme.

Said the 20-year-old: "It was tough when I was at ITE (but) I had a few good friends who helped me to take notes and record lectures whenever I missed classes. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to catch up."

Footballer Gerald Ting, 16, will benefit from the new initiative when he begins pursuing the Nitec in Fitness Training next year.

He said: "Being in a sports class means it would be easier to fit training in. It'll be nice to be in a setting that is similar to the SSP and be surrounded by like-minded classmates."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Flexible study scheme allows balanced focus'. Print Edition | Subscribe