Running has always been a big part of Ms Abigail Sim's life, and the 2012 Schools National cross-country B Division champion showed yesterday that she has lost none of her pace by finishing third in the 10km women's race of this year's Straits Times Run.
The ST Run holds special significance for the 20-year-old, who clocked 48min 37sec, behind winner Vanja Cnops of Belgium (38.09) and fellow Singaporean Sumiko Tan (44.56).
Ms Sim, an undergraduate studying medicine at the National University of Singapore, was once a beneficiary of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) and applied for the bursary while studying at Chung Cheng High School (Main).
The middle child in a family of five had a humble background and took on odd jobs like door-to-door sales when she was younger.
The STSPMF help was huge, said Ms Sim, adding: "Without it, things would have been significantly harder. I would have spent a lot of time working instead of studying. I'm very grateful for that."
With the extra funds, she was able to focus on her studies. She scored seven points in the O-level examinations, and got into Victoria Junior College. She said: "Whenever I hit a roadblock while studying, I would go down to my neighbourhood to run a quick 5km. I would clear my mind and go through formulas for physics."
The STSPMF supports more than 10,000 children from low-income families annually and has disbursed more than $55 million since it was started in 2000. In all, $24,252 was raised for the fund in this year's ST Run through three avenues: $1 from every registration; half of the proceeds from race vest personalisation; and donations.