Speech By Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister For Culture, Community And Youth, And Senior Minister Of State For Communications And Information, At The SPEX Scholarship Award Ceremony

20 Nov 2013

Mr Teo Ser Luck, MOS for Trade and Industry

Mr Lim Teck Yin, CEO of Singapore Sports Council

Members of the High Performance Sports Steering Committee,

Team Singapore athletes,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I am happy to join you this evening, a significant day for Singapore Sports as we formally recognise our first batch of Sports Excellence Scholars, or spexScholars in short.

2. To all our spexScholars, congratulations on receiving this top national scholarship for sport. You are the best of Team Singapore. This scholarship recognises your achievements so far, and importantly, your potential to go even further. All of you here today come from a wide range of sports, including disability sports, It is our commitment to ensuring all our deserving athletes get the full support and backing of the country, to compete at the national, regional, international and Olympic levels.

3. Achievement in high performance sports is a combination of talent and preparation. Innate talent or the right physical attributes for the sport matters. At the same time, all talented athletes like you can only succeed through many hours of preparation and training. Some experts have estimated that at least 10,000 hours of training is required - and it's not just about clocking up the hours, but also training smart, with the right support from sport science and sports medicine. So that is a lot of investment in research, time and energy.

4. We recognise the commitment and many sacrifices that you need to make in order to excel in sports. Therefore, with the spexScholarship, we hope to give all of you peace of mind to train full-time. More importantly, with the new High Performance Sports System, you can look forward to holistic support as you gear up for regional and global competitions. This includes the best sports science resources from the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI), to enable you to train effectively.

5. At the same time, as part of the High Performance Sports System, we will do more to look after educational and career pursuits. In particular, the Sports Excellence Education Scheme and Sports Excellence Career Scheme will help our athletes benefit from education or career support through our partnerships with institutes of higher learning and athlete-friendly companies. The SSI's range of sports science and medicine services will also continue to be available to you.

6. We will continue to improve our High Performance Sports System, and to award more spexScholarships to deserving sportsmen and sportswomen like you with the $40 million set aside over the next five years - the highest amount so far in our sports history. It is our commitment and faith in you, as you compete among the best, to do our nation proud, and to fly Singapore's flag high.

7. From among the applicants for this year's spexScholarship we have also identified a group of 26 very promising athletes who have the potential to become scholarship recipients in future. We have selected you because we recognise your potential and we will continue to track your progress. Under the High Performance Sports System, you can look forward to targeted support for overseas training camps, competitions and equipment. This will help you as you continue to train and do your best to build up your competition profile.

8. As you progress, there will be pressure and expectation on you to deliver. The journey will be challenging, with its share of ups and downs. But if you have the potential to win and the determination to succeed, then I assure you that we will back you up all the way. At the end of the day, it is not just about your sporting talent but also your attitude and mindset - your commitment and dedication to train hard, excel, and to continually improve yourself. These are the attributes that will enable you to overcome all obstacles, maximise your potential, and do Singapore proud.

9. At this juncture, let me also take the opportunity to acknowledge the many supporters behind our athletes - your family members, friends and loved ones. All of you play a crucial role in this entire system of High Performance Sports. The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) can have resources to provide grants and the best sports science research for our athletes. But we cannot replace the role of parents and family members. I know all of you must be proud of the achievements of our spexScholars, and I am sure they are also appreciative of all the support that you have given to them over the years.

10. Finally, l would like to congratulate once again our inaugural batch of spexScholars, and I wish all of you the very best in your sporting journeys ahead.

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