Archer Contessa Loh hits bull's eye with Spex award

Fencer Maxine Wong (far left) and archer Contessa Loh are two of 19 new spexScholars, with a total of 73 recipients from 22 sports this year.
Fencer Maxine Wong (left) and archer Contessa Loh are two of 19 new spexScholars, with a total of 73 recipients from 22 sports this year.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The first able-bodied archer recipient hopes scholarship fund will aid in SEA Games bid

She couldn't explain "how great that feels" to compete at the Asian Games last year, despite finishing fourth in the compound mixed team event with Alan Lee.

Contessa Loh was part of the archery team that made their bow at the regional Games then, and broke new ground again yesterday when she became the first able-bodied archer to receive the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarship.

In 2017, para-athlete Nur Syahidah Alim was the first archer to receive the prestigious scholarship, which gives recipients enhanced support in areas such as sport science and career preparation.

"Getting the scholarship on top of that (Asian Games outing) is like having the cherry on top of the cake," said the 24-year-old Loh, who received her certificate from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at Swissotel The Stamford.

"It shows that archery has the potential to do really well and has the potential go further."

Loh was one of 19 new spexScholars, with a total of 73 recipients from 22 sports this year.

She added that the funding will aid in upgrading equipment and overseas competitions as she aims for a podium finish at this year's SEA Games in the Philippines and in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Fencer Maxine Wong and shuttler Loh Kean Yew were also first-time recipients of the scholarship yesterday and are aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

"With the scholarship, I can go overseas for more training and competitions to build my experience and get used to competing with people from different countries," said the 18-year-old Wong.

Shuttler Loh, 21, who defeated Chinese great Lin Dan two months ago, said: "This support will give me the necessary push in terms of training, home and overseas tournaments and all other efforts leading up to it."

A STEPPING STONE

You have not only demonstrated the potential to go far, more importantly you have shown the drive, the determination, the hunger to reach your targets. This will be the start of an intense journey for sporting excellence.

GRACE FU, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, addressing the 19 new recipients of the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarship.

In her speech, Ms Fu said: "You have not only demonstrated the potential to go far, more importantly you have shown the drive, the determination, the hunger to reach your targets.

"This will be the start of an intense journey for sporting excellence and we are committed to supporting you every step of the way."

Also, nine new partner organisations were last night welcomed into the spexBusiness and spexEducation network, which aims to support Team Singapore athletes through job and education opportunities.

The network now has a total of 74 partners supporting 650 athletes.

One such partner, Deloitte Singapore, will be hiring three national athletes - among them national sprinter Shanti Pereira - which will take the total number of Team Singapore athletes hired by the company to over 100 by May.

James Walton, head of Deloitte South-east Asia's Sport Business group, said companies must join the network only with the right reasons.

He quipped: "If you do the scheme because you think you'll get publicity, what will happen is you bring in athletes without getting the culture and job fit right.

"There are a lot of steps to go through in terms of the right athlete, the right job and the right work arrangement.

"The whole team must work properly because so many things can go wrong if you don't get it right."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Loh hits bull's eye with Spex award'. Print Edition | Subscribe