There is just under a year to go to the first South-east Asia (SEA) Games on Singapore soil since 1993, and a huge effort is already underway to ensure it will be a grand and successful event in terms of execution and medal haul for the Republic.
Even as local telecommunication giants SingTel announced their support for the 28th SEA Games yesterday by becoming the official multimedia partners, providing more than $15 million worth of multimedia solutions and technological infrastructure, Sport Singapore revealed they would pump in additional funds for more than 200 athletes across different sports to get them in the best position to win next year.
Next year's SEA Games will be held from June 5 to 16, involving over 7,000 athletes and officials from 11 countries, and will feature 402 events in 36 sports.
The funding initiative, called "The Final Push", is a one-year support scheme and increases the amount handed out for current support programmes for carded athletes who are non-Spex scholars.
For example, at the regional carding level, under the enhanced GLOW (Grant of Loss of Wages) initiative, athletes can now get up to $2,500 per month a year, up from the previous limit of $2,000 per month for six months.
Also, under the enhanced TAG (Training Assistance Grant), athletes may be remunerated with up to $800 per month for a year, up from the previous lump sum of $1,200 for a year.
Under the enhanced programme support, National Sports Associations (NSAs) can also request for more funds to help their athletes, for example in the form of sending them for overseas competitions or sparring matches to increase experience and exposure.
Sport Singapore will work with the NSAs to identify the athletes for the programme - who have to commit to a fully-monitored, full-time training load.
Newly-elected Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy told The New Paper: "This is fantastic support for our athletes and we are very appreciative.
"The enhanced support will definitely help athletes who may have to put their studies or work on hold to train full-time to do well at the SEA Games."
Meanwhile, SingTel joined NTUC FairPrice as a Tier 1 sponsor (minimum sum of $5 million) as the Singapore SEA Games organising committee (Singsoc) moves a step closer to reaching their $50-million target.