Shooting: Olympic shooter Teo Shun Xie considering training full time, is among new batch of spexScholars

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu taking a wefie with some of the new recipients (or their representatives) of the Sports Excellence Scholarship, including Teo Shun Xie (standing, right). The multi-million dollar programme has been p
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu taking a wefie with some of the new recipients (or their representatives) of the Sports Excellence Scholarship, including Teo Shun Xie (standing, right). The multi-million dollar programme has been providing enhanced levels of support for Team Singapore athletes since 2013. It has been offered to 111 athletes in total.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Olympic shooter, who is considering training full time, is among new batch of spexScholars

Juggling a full-time job and training as an elite pistol shooter has not stopped Teo Shun Xie from competing at the Rio Olympics or winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and SEA Games a year later.

But, to scale even greater heights, the 28-year-old felt she needed to commit fully to training and is considering leaving the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, where she works as a research officer.

Regardless of her decision, her athletic ambitions received a boost yesterday, thanks to her entry into the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarship programme. She was one of 15 new entrants to the scheme, which offers a monthly stipend ranging from $1,200 to $8,400.

She said: "I will most likely leave my job (once her acceptance of the spexScholarship is finalised). The scholarship is a rare opportunity and I want to push myself... and reach my peak.

"Training full-time will allow me to have proper rest, recovery and a more (structured) training schedule. As for overseas meets, things will remain the same. My employers have been very supportive."

  • New spexScholars

  • BADMINTON

    Tan Wei Han, 23 Terry Hee, 21 Ryan Ng, 18

    CANOE

    Xatia Lim, 24

    DIVING

    Timothy Lee, 22 Mark Lee, 22

    FENCING

    Amita Berthier, 16

    GYMNASTICS

    Tan Sze En, 16

    PARA-ARCHERY Nur Syahidah Alim, 31

    PARA-ATHLETICS

    Suhairi Suhani, 19

    SHOOTING

    Teo Shun Xie, 28

    SWIMMING

    Nicholle Toh, 15 Lionel Khoo, 21 Pang Sheng Jun, 28

    TABLE TENNIS

    Zhou Yihan, 22

The spexScholarship, launched in 2013 and with 111 given out so far, offers support to national athletes who are deemed to have the potential to excel on the Asian and world stage. Recipients include Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and Paralympic champion Yip Pin Xiu.

Besides the financial backing, the Singapore Sports Institute also provides support in areas of sports science and nutrition, among others.

There are currently 67 athletes on the scheme, which also welcomes four new sport disciplines - diving, canoe paddle, para-archery and para-athletics.

Diving twins Mark and Timothy Lee, who claimed a 3m synchronised silver at the 2015 SEA Games, were thrilled. Mark said: "We feel excited that non-traditional sports like ours are considered fairly for the spexScholarship programme."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu presented certificates to the new batch of scholars at the National Youth Sports Institute. She said: "Our spexScholars have inspired Singaporeans with their breakthrough achievements. We are very proud of them, and will continue to support them in their sporting journey."

Table tennis world No. 3 Feng Tianwei, who was axed from the national set-up by the Singapore Table Tennis Association last October, was grateful for her continued inclusion in the scheme.

She has had to form her own entourage comprising coach and sparring partners. The 30-year-old said: "The scholarship is more important now and I'm very thankful. I'm doing everything by myself now but I will still aim to get better results."

While the scholarships are given to individual athletes, Richard Gordon, Sport Singapore's head of high performance sport, said there has been greater emphasis on building up the infrastructure within national sports associations to ensure the benefits are shared by more.

He said: "We're looking at sports which have done well, but ultimately we'll work with any sport willing to work with us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Teo guns for greater glory'. Print Edition | Subscribe