Pool player Aloysius Yapp was 18 when he received news that his application for the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF)-Peter Lim Scholarship was successful last July.
Four months later, he made a huge splash, winning the Under-19 World Junior Championships in Shanghai.
Yesterday, Yapp, who turned 19 on Saturday, was once again part of the roll call, when a record number of 373 athletes received their scholarships in a ceremony at ITE College Central.
The scholarships are worth more than $1 million and this year's list feature 60 athletes who will represent Singapore at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil next month.
Speaking to The New Paper, Yapp, who has set his sights on the gold medal in the men's nine-ball singles, said: "This scholarship motivates you to train more, and it helps a lot with expenses for overseas tournaments.
"To know that the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and Peter Lim are supporting me, it definitely makes me work harder to prove that (the sponsorship) doesn't go to waste.
"My SEA Games preparation is going well. I just recently got a sparring partner; a former world champion from Taiwan to help me." Launched in 2010 by the SNOC and philanthropist Peter Lim, the scholarship programme has helped 1,450 young athletes make the step up in their respective sports and the total donation thus far is close to $4 million.
The scholarship programme received 1,170 applications this year, with the 373 successful applicants - up from 297 last year - ranging from primary school ($1,000), secondary school ($2,000), junior college/ integrated programme/tertiary ($3,000) and high performance athletes at under-18 level ($5,000).
Yapp, who is studying for the O Levels at Coleman College, a private school, received $5,000 under the high performance category.
Ng Ser Miang, chairman of the SOF, said the athletes' achievements are the credit of the many stakeholders who have supported them.
He said: "We have witnessed recipients make personal breakthroughs, break personal bests and national records, and win medals at major Games, the Youth Olympic Games, and many other international competitions.
"These progressive milestones signify a strong desire and capability among our athletes to thrive in sports.
"We are very grateful to Mr Peter Lim for his generosity, and we hope we can continue to help our local athletes fulfil their sporting dreams."
Wushu exponent Vera Tan, a first-time recipient who also received $5,000 as a high-performance athlete, said the money would help defray her equipment costs.
The 17-year-old, who won gold in the women's duilian (barehand) event at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, will compete in three events here in June.
"(Wushu) is quite a high-maintenance sport because of all the clothing, shoes and even the swords, so the scholarship really goes a long way," said the Dunman High student.
"I'm looking forward to the SEA Games, especially performing in front of a home crowd, something which I've never experienced before.
"The other ASEAN countries are quite strong in wushu, so it will be tough.
"But I'll give of my best."
This article was first published on May 5, 2015.
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