SINGAPORE - Higher cash rewards await para-athletes who win medals at the major Games as the Singapore National Paralympic Council’s (SNPC) Athletes Achievement Awards scheme has been enhanced till 2024.
The cash incentive for a Paralympic gold medal has been raised from $400,000 to $500,000, which is half the payout for an Olympic gold.
This was announced at Saturday's (July 2) Asean Para Games (APG) flag presentation ceremony at the Sport Singapore auditorium, where Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan was the guest of honour.
This was the second time in 10 months that the amount has been increased, thanks to sponsors DBS Bank and Tote Board.
Last October, the cash reward for a Paralympic gold medal was doubled to $400,000 following a public debate over the disparity in cash rewards for Olympic and Paralympic medallists after para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu retained her two titles at the Tokyo Games.
The quantum for medals at upcoming major Games such as the July 30-Aug 6 APG in Indonesia and next year’s Asian Para Games will also be increased.
An individual gold medallist at the APG will now be awarded $5,000 for each gold medal – capped at a maximum of three highest achievements – with gold medallists in team events and team sports being awarded $8,000 and $16,000 respectively.
At the 2017 APG, the cash rewards for gold medallists were $2,000 for each individual medal, $3,000 for each team event and $6,000 for team sports.
The monetary incentives for the Commonwealth Games, which have events for both able-bodied athletes and para-athletes, have already been doubled last year, after DBS Bank became a co-sponsor of the award scheme, matching the amounts supported by primary sponsor Tote Board.
Its involvement saw the doubling of cash awards given out to para-athletes who win medals at all major Games. Following yesterday’s announcement, cash awards at the continental and Paralympic levels will also be increased further.
A gold medal at the Asian Para Games will now earn $85,000 for an individual event, $125,000 for a team event and $170,000 for team sports. At the previous edition, the incentives were $35,000, $50,000 and $70,000 respectively.
The amounts for silver and bronze medallists at the Asian Para Games and Paralympics will also be increased.
Yip, a five-gold Paralympian, was heartened by the support.
The 30-year-old said: "Since I started in 2004 until now, it has been steadily growing. The movement has been growing. When I first started, people didn't really know about para-sports but now I am hoping it's a household name, people know it exists, people support our athletes and I hope this support will extend beyond 2024 as well."
SNPC president Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang hailed this as a significant move, thanking the sponsors for their support.
She said: “For all of us involved in para-sport, this demonstrates that there is tremendous support and recognition for what our para-athletes are working towards.
“It’s very important for athletes that they are recognised, that they are celebrated, for what they do in their sport. And so this would motivate our athletes, this would challenge them to give their very best.”
Paralympian Sophie Soon, who will be the Republic’s flag bearer for the upcoming APG in Solo, Indonesia, also welcomed the support.
The 25-year-old said: “Apart from the monetary value increasing, this means that the public is starting to take notice of the para-sports scene.
“It’s very important that we have this because when we have businesses taking an interest and supporting the para-sports scene, we will also be able to gain support from the public and that’s something we ultimately want to work towards.
“We want to try and move towards the able-bodied scene and para-sports scene being viewed as equal. And even though now there’s a slight deficit, we are definitely moving towards the right direction.”
Referring to revised reward scheme for the APG in his speech, Mr Tan said: “It’s something we’re all very excited and happy about. 2017 was some time ago, it’s a long wait since Kuala Lumpur, the last APG. But five years later, we are all here to recognise and cheer on our Team Singapore athletes, officials and family members who will represent Singapore at these Games.”
At the 2017 edition, Singapore achieved their largest away haul of 50 medals (nine gold, 17 silver, 24 bronze). For the upcoming APG, the Republic will be represented by 37 para-athletes, including 16 debutants. Besides Soon, the others include Paralympians Diroy Noordin (athletics) and Nur Syahidah Alim (archery).