A track athlete and a rower have finally made it to the list of the country's elite sports support programme.
Shanti Pereira and Saiyidah Aisyah were among the 17 new recipients across seven sports of the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) yesterday, taking the total number of athletes under the scheme to 72.
Both will be under the scheme till 2018, when the Asian Games will be held in Indonesia.
The programme was launched in 2013 and is backed by a war chest of $40 million over five years. It offers enhanced support to athletes who have been identified with the potential to win medals at Asian, Olympic and world-level events.
Athletes earmarked for the top tier (of four levels) of support will receive a monthly stipend of up to $8,000 and other forms of assistance in areas including sport science, coaching, competition, training and equipment.
The athletes received their scholarships from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday.
Details of the spex Scholarship
Backed by $40 million over five years, the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarship offers enhanced support to athletes who have been identified with the potential to win medals at Asian, Olympic and world-level events.
Athletes will receive a monthly stipend and other forms of assistance in areas including sport science, coaching, competition, training and equipment.
Monthly stipend amounts
Level One: $3,000 - $8,400
Level Two: $2,000 - $5,600
Level Three: $1,200 - $3,360
Number of recipients: 72
New recipients this year: Shanti Pereira (athletics) Saiyidah Aisyah (rowing) Bernie Chin (sailing) Sheik Farhan Alau'ddin, Nurul Suhaila Saiful (silat) Tessa Neo, Martina Lindsay Veloso (shooting) Quah Zheng Wen, Francis Fong, Dylan Koo, Darren Chua, Hoong En Qi, Hanah Quek, Quah Ting Wen, Quah Jing Wen, Roanne Ho (swimming) Mark Leong (waterski)
At a ceremony at the Singapore Sports Hub's Black Box auditorium, she said: "The spexScholarship is part of a concerted effort to support our athletes who are keen to reach the pinnacle of sports excellence, and have shown the physical and emotional strength to do so."
Shanti, 19, is thankful for the support she will receive to fuel her dream of making it to the Olympic Games in 2020.
The SEA Games 200m champion said: "It will definitely help me in my journey towards the 2018 Asian Games as well as Tokyo 2020 in terms of training both here and overseas as well as anything else I would need leading up to it."
Swimming's Quah siblings - Ting Wen, Zheng Wen and Jing Wen - were also first-time recipients.
While the scholarship will take effect only from April 1, Zheng Wen was granted the scholarship last August and he will be under the scheme until the Olympics end.
The 19-year-old, who was granted deferment from national service last year, welcomed the support as he bids to lower his times.
He said: "At times, raw, hard work won't bring huge improvements any more. That's when the mechanics and science help. And with more overseas competitions and training, I can learn from being exposed to the variety of conditions, working towards the Olympics.
"It's been brought down to a more human level."
Younger recipients said the scholarship was an encouragement to help them achieve their sporting aspirations and insisted that being earmarked for success on the world stage at such a tender age was not a burden.
Noted Under-17 laser radial world champion Bernie Chin, 16, a Year 5 student at Raffles Institution: "This will help me to improve and get better. I'm still quite young and I've got many years of sailing to come. But I hope to make it to the Olympics. "
Added Hannah Quek, a 16-year-old swimmer from Raffles Girls' School: "I'm looking forward to going overseas for more competitions. It's a lot of encouragement to receive the same level of support as my seniors, and I hope to be able to reach and perform at that level."