15 new scholars and 4 new sport disciplines in fourth year of spexScholarship programme

Singapore , 17 Mar 2017

Minister Fu with some of the 15 new spexScholars

15 new Team Singapore athletes were awarded Sports Excellence Scholarships (spexScholarships) today, bringing the total number of athletes under the scheme in the fourth year to 67. Four sport disciplines, canoe paddle, diving, para-archery and para-athletics are represented for the first time.  

The spexScholarship represents the pinnacle support for High Performance Sports (HPS) in Singapore, offering enhanced backing to athletes who have demonstrated potential to medal at Asian, Olympic and world level events. Since its inception in 2013, the programme has had 111 spexScholars in total.

Said Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth who is also Chair for the HPS Steering Committee: “Our spexScholars have inspired Singaporeans with their breakthrough achievements. Since the start in 2013, the spexScholarship Programme has seen good outcomes in a wide range of sports. We are very proud of them, and will continue to support them in their sporting journey.  With the increase in funding for the HPS system, we will help the athletes and the sports raise their game even more.”

The Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) received 84 nominations and shortlisted 33 applicants for interviews this year after a rigorous selection process. The HPS Selection & Performance Sub-Committee interviewed the applicants, and the HPS Steering Committee reviewed the shortlisted candidates before arriving at the final list of spexScholars. Of the 67 scholars in the current cohort, 28 are renewals from the previous batch.

Sharing by existing SpexScholars

New spexScholars diving duo Mark Lee and Timothy Lee were first at the 2nd SEA Championships 2016, second at the FINA Grand Prix 2016 in Gold Coast, third at the FINA Grand Prix 2016 in Singapore, and second at the 28th SEA Games. Said Mark: “We are very thankful that the HPS Committee has seen the potential in us to pursue diving at the next level. We feel excited that non-traditional sports like ours are considered fairly for the spexScholarship programme.”

Leading up to the 29th SEA Games, Mark and Timothy will be competing in the FINA Diving Grand Prix in Puerto Rico, Singapore National Diving Championships, Asian Diving Cup in Macau, and World Championships in Budapest. Added Timothy: “Going for these competitions is costly but necessary in helping us achieve peak performances and attain what we set out to do. The spexScholarship will lift the financial burden off our shoulders and help us concentrate on the competitions. It is also very encouraging and reassuring to know that the SSI team will be helping us in our journey to the Olympics.”  

Track & Field athlete Suhairi Suhani, another new spexScholar said: “With the spexScholarship, I can take on a full-time training load and do not have to worry about financing my training and competitions.” Suhairi, who qualified for the Rio Paralympic Games in the Long Jump added, “I can concentrate fully towards my goals of qualifying for the next Paralympics, as I aim to improve my performances at IPC (International Paralympic Committee) meets in Dubai and Berlin, at the IPC World Championship in London and ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia.”

spexScholars’ successes

By and large, the spexScholars have performed remarkably well. At the Major Games, they contributed to a significant percentage of medals won by Team Singapore.


Major Games

Percentage of medals won
by spexScholars

2014 Commonwealth Games


2014 Asian Games


2015 Southeast Asian Games


2015 ASEAN Para Games


2016 Rio Olympic & Paralympic Games


At the 2016 Singapore Sports Awards, most of the highly coveted honours were won by spexScholars in recognition of their sporting achievements.

2016 Singapore Sports Awards


Sportsman of the Year

Joseph Isaac Schooling (Swimming)

Sportswoman of the Year

Shayna Ng Lin Zhi (Bowling)

Sportsboy of the Year

Quah Zheng Wen (Swimming)

Sportsgirl of the Year

Joey Yeo Ruoqi (Bowling)

Team of the Year (Event)

Cherie Tan Shi Hui, New Hui Fen and Shayna Ng Lin Zhi (Bowling Trios at the World Women’s Championships)

The spexScholarship programme has achieved many successes to date. The recent batch of scholars trail-blazed to many of Singapore’s firsts in 2016. Among them are swimmer Joseph Schooling who won Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal, para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu who became the first Singaporean to win two gold medals in one Paralympic Games, canoeists Geraldine Lee and Stephenie Chen who won Singapore’s first gold medal at the Asian Canoe Sprint Competition, water-skier Mark Leong who won Singapore’s first gold medal at Asian Waterski Championships Men’s Slalom, and rower Saiyidah Aisyah who is the first Singaporean to qualify in Rowing at the Rio Olympic Games. The spexScholars have also charted many milestones. Refer to Annex E for more details.

On how the spexScholarship has helped him, silat world champion Shakir Juanda shared: “The holistic programme and team at SSI has helped me in many ways in my journey to the top. The biomechanist monitored and did in-depth analysis to optimise my performances, the physiotherapist helped me recover from my knee and ankle injuries swiftly, the strength and conditioning coaches trained and made me stronger and faster, and the nutritionist planned my diet to boost endurance and speed up recovery. I am very blessed to be supported by these experts as I train for upcoming championships and am truly honoured to be a spexScholar making our nation proud.”

Concurring with Shakir, para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu added: “The spexScholarship has helped me on my road to Rio. The passion, knowledge and dedication of my coach and the SSI sports science team made a whole lot of difference in my journey to reach greater heights.”

Said Chief of SSI, Toh Boon Yi: “Growing a pipeline of talents and grooming them for podium success requires a technically sound plan and commitment of resources in the long term. SSI aims to invest in developing sustainable HPS capabilities. The spexScholarship is one of several programmes that provides valuable opportunities for our athletes to benefit from local and overseas high quality training environments and competitions in their pursuit for sport excellence.” Refer to Annex F for more details on HPS. Applications for the fifth intake of spexScholars will take place in September 2017.

Minister Fu with the new SpexScholars SportSG and NSAs

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