SINGAPORE: Singapore's 2013 SEA Games gold-medallists received a cash bounty on Friday as part of a scheme to reward medal winners at major games.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also president of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), disbursed S$400,000 at an appreciation lunch.
But the amount, under the Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP), was considerably less than what was given out after the 2011 SEA Games.
The amount handed out this year was the lowest in the last four editions of the SEA Games. In 2011, athletes received S$525,000.
The SNOC, which runs the scheme, said this could be due to the reduced sports programme at the Myanmar SEA Games, which may not have favoured Team Singapore athletes.
But their results also bode well for the future.
About one in two Singapore athletes in Myanmar had been first-timers at the SEA Games, and they contributed to nearly half of Singapore's medal tally.
Mr Teo said: "This is a good sign that we have a strong pipeline of sportsmen and women. And we look forward to their continued progress and success in the years to come."
Gold-medal winning athletes must plough back 20 per cent of the MAP awards to their respective National Sports Associations (NSA).
The NSA will then decide how best to use the money -- be it training or development. This would typically include the purchase of equipment, or sending the athletes for overseas competition.
Swimmers dominated the podium, snagging S$115,000 for the sport.
Sprint queen Amanda Lim, who successfully defended her 50-metre freestyle crown in Myanmar, received S$17,500. She was the highest-earner among those present at the lunch.
Top earners Joseph Schooling and Tao Li are both currently overseas.
Schooling, who won five golds at the Games, was the highest-earning athlete with S$27,500, while Tao took home S$22,500.
Debutants like judoka Ho Han Boon and paddler Clarence Chew were also recognised, with each earning S$10,000.
Some athletes said the money will be used to boost their competitive edge ahead of the Asian Games later this year.
Lim said: "Having the award is a recognition for our success. And on top of the medals, it's a bonus for us... (as the reward will) help us defray our training costs... For competitions and also for training camps, sometimes we have to fork out our own money (for) training equipment and stuff."
Rowing gold medallist Saiyidah Aisyah is planning to use the money for more overseas training stints.
She had trained in Australia for more than two months ahead of the Myanmar Games, and her coach, Alan Bennett, said such stints can make a big difference.
Mr Bennett said: "We saw results of what happened after being there for 10 weeks. And if we can continue that momentum of training in competitive environments, it's certainly going to help her."
He believes she needs more of such training if she is to be competitive at this year's Asian Games and beyond.
He wants to see Aisyah train in Australia full-time, but Singapore's first rowing gold medallist since 1997 is unlikely to be able to do this due to work commitments here. - CNA/ac/gn
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