SINGAPORE - Switching from windsurfing to sailing is no easy feat but Amanda Ng decided on the move at the end of 2014 in her bid to qualify for her first Olympics.
And it was a proud moment for the 23-year-old Singaporean when she and partner Jovina Choo qualified and competed in the women’s 470 event at the 2016 Rio Games, never mind that the pair finished last among 20 teams.
But, soon after that experience, Ng found herself starting “from zero”.
She decided to switch back to RS:X windsurfing, which she previously competed in. This meant that she lost her carding as a national athlete, which offers access to medical assistance and allowances to defray training costs.
She had to pay out of her own pocket for physiotherapy sessions and new windsurfing equipment which cost about $8,000.
Then came the good news last month when Ng receiving $20,000 as the first recipient of the Deloitte Singapore Scholarship for elite athletes.
The accountancy undergraduate at the Singapore Management University (SMU) can now use the money to fund her qualification bid for this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia from Aug 18-Sept 2.
“I am currently not carded because I switched classes from 470 to windsurfing after the Olympic Games. I am now self-funded so this scholarship comes in handy,” Ng told The Straits Times yesterday.
Ng will use a significant portion of the scholarship for new equipment, while the rest will cover training and physiotherapy costs, as well as overseas training stints and competitions.
She plans to compete in Thailand twice – at a pre-Asian Games competition in Jakarta in April and possibly another meet in Spain in March.
She has yet to earn her ticket for the Asian Games, but has three qualifying events from now till June to do so. Ng said the scholarship has given her a huge boost.
“I have been using old equipment to train and it was not ideal when I raced in the World Championships in Japan last September. With the Deloitte Scholarship, I can now invest in new equipment that will serve me well in my Asian Games campaign ahead.”
Deloitte, an accounting firm and services provider, has also assured her of full-time employment as an audit and assurance associate once she completes her degree in December. ST understands that this move by Deloitte is the first of its kind by any company in Singapore.
“The Deloitte Scholarship is just the start and I have to put in a lot of effort into my sports and studies. That being said, knowing I’ll have a job waiting for me upon graduation allows me to focus on the job at hand,” said Ng, who was previously an intern at Deloitte.
Over 40 current and retired Team Singapore athletes are currently employed by Deloitte, including netballers Charmaine Soh and Kimberly Lim, pole vaulter Rachel Yang and retired badminton player Derek Wong.
Singapore Sailing Federation president Ben Tan hailed Ng for her “resilience in overcoming multiple obstacles”, and lauded Deloitte for its proactive move to support local sports.
“There is no question that Olympic and other campaigns require funds,” added Tan, a former Olympian himself. “Sports funding should not come solely from the Government, or taxpayers. In a healthy ecosystem, the private sector is usually the dominant contributor.
“Hence, it is heartening to see Deloitte step forward as a shining example for other private sector firms to follow.”
Seah Gek Choo, talent partner at Deloitte Singapore, said: “We hope that with this scholarship, Amanda and future athletes who become Deloitte scholars, will be financially worry-free and be able to dedicate their time to excel in their sports and studies, and subsequently in their careers, in equal measure."