Breakthrough Asiad bronze spurs Yu's Olympic bid

A happy Yu Mengyu holding mementoes of her showing at this year's Commonwealth and Asian Games.
A happy Yu Mengyu holding mementoes of her showing at this year's Commonwealth and Asian Games.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It has been two months since Yu Mengyu clinched the women's singles joint-bronze in the Asian Games table tennis competition, but the confidence she has gained from that achievement has not faded.

And the 29-year-old believes it will help as she embarks on her quest to secure a place in the team for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

She was the second-highest earner at the Major Games Award Programme (MAP) Awards presentation at Raffles Town Club last night. A total of $2.57 million was awarded to 53 medallists for their achievements at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

Olympic champion Joseph Schooling was the biggest winner, receiving $340,000 in total for his two individual golds and two relay bronzes at the Asian Games.

An athlete's first individual Asiad gold is worth $200,000, a silver $100,000 and a bronze $50,000.

Yu received $136,000 for winning the Asiad bronze, as well as two Commonwealth Games golds (women's doubles, mixed doubles) and two silvers (singles silver, women's team).

Her Asiad bronze, which she described as a "breakthrough", came on the back of two injury-plagued years and she said yesterday: "You could say the last two years were a low. So this medal has given me renewed self-belief, and (more) confidence when I take the court."

This confidence, she added, has led to her finding ways to better adapt to playing with the new ball in training and competition, and she feels she has greater knowledge of how to handle the ball.

Yu, who will depart for Liaoning, China this weekend for a 28-day centralised training camp, said: "Next year will be packed because it's the year for the Olympics selection... my biggest goal is to fight for a team slot."

Yu is not the only one with Olympic dreams in mind. Shooter Martina Veloso, who won two Commonwealth Games golds in April, is gunning to compete in her maiden Olympics in two years.

The 19-year-old said: "Next year is going to be a busy year with World Cups and Asian Shooting Championships, where the quotas will be distributed.

"It'll be my first Olympics if I take part. I'll try my best and try not to pressure myself too much because if I do that, I might just miss out."

Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday announced a name change for the award, which was previously called the Multi-million Dollar Award Programme.

"The new name will carry more relevance in these times, and better reflect the heights and scale of the events that our athletes reach," added Mr Tan, who is also Speaker of Parliament.

The MAP rewards medallists of the SEA, Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games. Sponsored by the Tote Board Group comprising the Tote Board, Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club, medallists receive cash based on the major Games event and medal won.

Athletes must give a percentage of their MAP awards (50 per cent for the Commonwealth Games and 20 per cent for the Asiad) to their respective national sports associations for training and development.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2018, with the headline 'Breakthrough Asiad bronze spurs Yu's Olympic bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe