National speed skater Xu Jing Feng will be gliding more smoothly across the ice, thanks to a talent award that will help him with the expenses for his training and equipment.
The 16-year-old was one of 30 students who received the award from investment management company Capital Group under The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) yesterday.
Beneficiaries of the fund who did well in their co-curricular activities (CCAs) received cash awards worth $1,000 each.
Jing Feng had won one silver and two gold medals when he competed in the Southeast Asian Open Trophy earlier this year.
He also represented Singapore at this year's World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, organised by the International Skating Union, in Montreal, Canada. He achieved his personal best in the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m events.
His next big competition will be the SEA Games in November.
However, with about four competitions a year and six days of training a week, his skates have seen better days.
He said: "Ice skating or speed skating is an expensive sport. On top of spending on my attire and equipment, we also train overseas during my school holidays and it costs a lot. So, I try to do my best in everything to make my mother's sacrifice worth it."
Equipment such as boots and blades can cost about $3,700, while ice training sessions add up to $400 per month.
In order to save money, the Kranji Secondary School student said that he tries to eat at home instead of going out.
His mother, personal administrator Ang Lay Choo, 49, said that while she definitely feels a financial strain, she continues to be supportive of Jing Feng's passion, as the sport has made him "more determined and responsible".
Ms Ang, who is the family's sole breadwinner, said of her only child: "It is really his passion and he has also become more independent through it.
"The training sessions are either very early in the morning or late at night, but he always ensures that he finishes all his schoolwork before he attends training. I am proud of him."
This is the first time that Capital Group, which has been donating to STSPMF since 2004, is partnering with the fund for an award.
At the ceremony - held at the Capital Group office in One Raffles Quay - Ms Katherine Wee, a partner at Capital Research Global Investors, and STSPMF treasurer Gerard Ee presented the awards.
Ms Wee said: "We strongly believe that we should leave no child behind in developing their passions and helping them grow in confidence.
"We hope to help local children ensure that they have the ability to pursue their passions, whatever circumstances they come from."
Started in 2000 as a community project initiated by The Straits Times, the fund provides pocket money to children from low-income families to help them with school-related expenses.
Since its launch, the fund has helped more than 170,000 children and young people in need, and disbursed $68 million.