SINGAPORE - Knowing that they wanted to pursue both studies and sports at an elite level, national wushu exponent Jowen Lim and squash player Au Yeong Wai Yhann took the less conventional route by enrolling in the Singapore Sports School's (SSP) post-secondary school pathway.
Au Yeong chose SSP over a polytechnic, while Lim transferred to the school in his final year of his diploma studies at Republic Polytechnic.
It is a move that has reaped dividends as the multiple SEA Games medallists were recipients of two new excellence awards at the SSP's Awards Night on Thursday (Jan 28).
In the ceremony that was held at the school's auditorium, Lim received the Tan Howe Liang Excellence Award and Au Yeong was given the Annabel Pennefather Excellence Award.
Both awards honour local sports icons Tan Howe Liang and Annabel Pennefather and will be presented annually to two male and two female student-athletes respectively.
They will be selected from the latest batch of graduates who have outstanding sports achievements. Triathlete Nicholas Rachmadi and paddler Eunice Lim were the other recipients of the awards, which come with a trophy and $1,000 in cash.
The awards are funded by the International Women's Forum Singapore Education Grant and Singapore Olympic Foundation respectively.
Wushu exponent Lim, 22, said: "I feel really good about receiving the award. It shows that the school recognises the effort I put into wushu. After I transferred, I had more time to focus on my training. It made it really very manageable."
Au Yeong felt that having the option to complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in three years instead of the usual two enabled her to focus on her studies while training eight times a week.
The 22-year-old, who recently scored 43 out of a maximum 45 in her IB exams, said: "It was extremely tough to balance my studies and sport, especially with the SEA Games in 2019 so I'm very thankful. It was really given a good opportunity to flourish in a good environment."
The awards ceremony on Thursday also saw the launch of the Singapore Sports School Alumni Association, which aims to build a community of SSP alumni to help its student-athletes.
President of the Alumni Association Janice Yun said that the older members will have more impact as they have "garnered different experiences and that will allow us to help the junior athletes".
National bowler Muhammad Jaris Goh, who is part of its committee, added: "It's important that there's an avenue for current student-athletes to turn to for guidance. They may reach a crossroads where they think if they should give up sport for O levels.
"Not only can we advise them, we can also meet up with other alumni and keep in touch."
The Moo Soon Chong Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year Award was also given to secondary and post-secondary student-athletes who have excelled in both sport and studies, as well as displayed exemplary conduct.
Paddlers Zhou Jingyi and Izaac Quek were honoured in the secondary category, while the post-secondary award was given to national shooter Ho Xiu Yi and ice skater Trevor Tan. The winners each received $1,200 in cash.