Group Photo of new spexScholars

(Group Photo of new spexScholars. Photo Credit: MCCY)

The Sport Excellence Scholarship has welcomed 33 new athletes from 11 sports into its programme, marking the largest cohort of spexScholars with 105 athletes across 24 sports as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. Since the spexScholarship programme was launched in 2013, it has supported 211 spexScholars, and produced 13 world champions with a total of 25 world championship titles. During a short span of 10 years, the spexScholarship also saw a total of 39 athletes achieve 47 podium finishes at the Asian Games and Olympics Games, as well as its para-equivalents.


Minister Edwin Tong giving opening remarks

(Minister Edwin Tong gives opening remarks. Photo Credit: MCCY)

More than 150 guests including new, current and former spexScholars, their family members, NSA representatives and partners were present at the 10th spexScholarship award ceremony today to celebrate the milestone. The event was also graced by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law.

Mr Kon Yin Tong, Chairman of the spexScholarship Selection Committee and Chairman of Sport Singapore, said, “The spexScholarship is an aspirational programme introduced to provide talented athletes an enhanced level of support to maximise their potential and enable them to achieve their sporting dreams. Over the years, we have refined the programme to better support our athletes, as part of our efforts to continuously enhance our system to exceed past achievements. As we celebrate the spexScholarship’s 10th anniversary, we are pleased to see more Team Singapore athletes commit to train and compete full-time to achieve sport excellence. We hope that this will inspire more elite athletes to pursue their sporting aspirations.”

Nine athletes have been a spexScholar since the spexScholarship programme was introduced in 2013, including bowlers Bernice Lim, Cherie Tan, Daphne Tan, New Hui Fen and Shayna Ng, canoeist Stephenie Chen, cuesports athlete Peter Gilchrist, equestrian Laurentia Tan, and sailor Kimberly Lim.

Team Singapore equestrian Laurentia Tan, who is a four-time Paralympic medallist, said, “I am really honoured to be a spexScholar. It is always a privilege to represent Singapore and have the opportunity to do what I love doing. With this support, I am more able to keep myself at the optimum physically and mentally. This will also help me continue through to Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.”

“Bowling has always been my passion, so when I was given the opportunity to go full-time, I took it. I am humbled to have won multiple world and professional titles whilst on the spexScholarship program. This would not have been possible without the entire team made up of physiologist, biomechanists, psychologist, strength & conditioning trainer. I hope that I'm able to motivate the next generation of athletes to pursue their dreams and become the best they can be,” said Team Singapore bowler Shayna Ng, who has medalled at various international and regional tournaments during her sporting career.

New spexScholars in 2023 cohort

Among the 33 new spexScholars, there are seven former spexScholars who returned to the programme, including boccia athlete Toh Sze Ning, wushu athletes Jowen Lim and Vera Tan, and swimmers Darren Chua, Jonathan Tan, Mikkel Lee and Quah Zheng Wen.

Setting clear goals for himself, Team Singapore wushu athlete, Jowen Lim, who was formerly a spexScholar from 2018 to 2019, said, “I am super excited to be back on the programme after serving 2 years of National Service. I am glad that I stayed committed to my goals and never doubted the process. With the enhanced level of support, I hope that I can win a gold medal at this year’s SEA Games, Asian Games and World Championships.”

With effect from this year, spexScholars who are entering National Service are eligible to remain on the spexScholarship. These spexScholars will also be eligible to receive a stipend and programmatic support to train while they fulfil their NS obligations. This revision of criteria will see the return of three elite swimmers who are currently serving NS, including Quah Zheng Wen, Darren Chua, and Jonathan Tan.

Team Singapore swimmer and multiple SEA Games medallist Jonathan Tan, who was formerly a spexScholar between 2018 to 2021, said, “It feels great to be back on the spexScholarship. The enhanced support will definitely go a long way in helping me achieve new personal bests for the upcoming major games and qualify for the Olympics – my key goal for this year. I will also be enrolling in Stanford University later in September and I hope that with the more competitive environment and additional support, I can further improve my form and reduce my timings."

This year’s spexScholarship programme also welcomed its first athlete in open water swimming, Chantal Liew, who was the first Singaporean to qualify for and compete in the Olympics in the sport.

“I'm now based in Australia and training with a dedicated open water team so I hope to perform well at this year's World Championships as well as the Asian Games, and most importantly obtain my second Olympic qualification. I'm so grateful that the selection committee has placed their faith in me. I'm also extremely honoured to be the first open water spexScholar and hope that this inspires younger athletes to take on new challenges outside their comfort zone, just as I did with Open Water!" said Team Singapore open water swimmer Chantal Liew.


Boccia athlete Aloysius Gan receiving his spexScholarship certificate

(Boccia athlete Aloysius Gan receiving his spexScholarship certificate. Photo Credit: MCCY)

17-year-old Team Singapore boccia athlete Aloysius Gan, who is one of the youngest athletes amongst the new spexScholars, said, “I am delighted to be awarded the spexScholarship as it brings me one step closer to my dream of flying the Singapore flag high at the Paralympics. It will provide me the additional resources to improve my techniques and will certainly also help me to focus on my trainings so that I can become a better and complete athlete.”

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