SINGAPORE - Keep the faith - these words, scrawled in an alley behind Rex Cinema in Mackenzie Road near Little India, are not mere graffiti to dancer Charmaine Tay, 21.
Multiple injuries from years of intensive training forced Ms Tay to take a break from dance after she was hospitalised in 2011.
The graffiti reminded the discouraged dancer that she had to keep faith with her art.
A photo of Ms Tay posing with the graffiti has since won her $1,000 in The Straits Times, Wherever You Are contest, which runs till noon this Friday.
The contest, which calls on readers to send in shots or videos of themselves enjoying life, has seen more than 3,400 entries so far. Readers stand to win cash prizes of more than $30,000.
The grand prize is a trip for two to London to catch the Chelsea versus Manchester City match on Oct 27.
The top winner also gets a five-day hotel stay courtesy of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, and at least $3,000 in cash.
Ms Tay's photo was shot last year for her Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts graduation portfolio by her friend, freelance photographer Goh Ming Wei, 25.
"The shadow cast on the wall portrays the greater dancer I will be if I keep the faith in dance and never let my injuries stop me from living my life as a dancer," said Ms Tay, who is pursuing a master's degree in dance science at London school Trinity Laban.
This week's judge, ST senior sports correspondent Rohit Brijnath, 50, was instantly struck by the poignancy of Ms Tay's photo.
"I found all the photos and videos to be wonderfully imaginative and often very funny," said Mr Brijnath. "But this one is beautiful and is also moving."
Among this week's 20 shortlisted entries was one from Mr Alan Zhang, 27, who runs gymnastics school Airstraordinary Sports.
The former national gymnast sent in a photo of himself doing a precarious "flagpole" move on a disused water tank near Tanglin Trust School.
"It's quite an easy move for me," said Mr Zhang, shrugging off the idea of danger. "I'm always doing this everywhere, anywhere."
Another entry was from Mr Flo Yeow, 23, who photographed himself and his girlfriend Alisa Chua, 21, carrying The Sunday Times in the streets of Mykonos, Greece.
The Singapore Management University students are now travelling across Europe. They have been trying to take a photo with the ST in every place they visit, though this has not been easy.
"We tried taking beach shots," said Ms Chua, "but we had to chase after our newspaper whenever the wind blew it away."
Though not successful so far, the couple will keep trying for the last prize. "We are taking our ST to Milan next," said Ms Chua.
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