Exactly a week ago, The Online Citizen ran a story after a Facebook post by Jose Raymond about government agency Sport Singapore’s current funding policy for national athletes.
In the Facebook post and subsequent story, it was revealed how Singapore national athletes were receiving a meagre $600 a year, or an average of $50 a month in training assistance grants from the government.
The grants are disbursed to the athletes twice a year, or $300 each time.
The post by Mr Raymond, who is a Vice-Chairman of the Chiam See Tong Sports Foundation and Vice-President (Partnerships) of the Singapore Swimming Association, has since been shared more than 120 times as at 30 June, including both former and current athletes.
Said national sprinter Calvin Kang, one of those representing Singapore at the upcoming SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur: “The harsh reality of sports in Singapore.”
National squash player Vivian Rhamanan, a gold medalist at the last SEA Games in Singapore in the jumbo doubles, said: “I’m one of the fortunate athletes to get funding by Singapore Sports Institute. Currently carded as L4, n get $600 annually from this system.”
Added former national sprinter Izwan Firdaus, a silver medalist from the 2009 SEA Games in Laos: “I have to beg my parents for a new training shoe each time my shoe broke.”
Sharing how athletes were told that they should run for their passion and not for the passion, Izwan said that he could not live with the way the athletes were being funded and decided to choose to focus on his rice bowl instead.
Former national swimmer and Olympian May Ooi, who is now a mixed martial arts fighter chimed in and added that “appropriate allocation of resources for deserving athletes should be a priority.”
Responses by other athletes as follows:
Government agency Sport Singapore has not responded to the story by TOC, or the Facebook post by Mr Raymond as yet.
When contacted, Mr Raymond said: “The frank and unedited responses by the athletes is loud and clear. It makes for painful reading but it is a harsh reality. The athletes must always be at the heart of whatever we do in sports administration.”