Wee to become 1st full-time wushu athlete

She may have won a gold medal at the SEA Games in Myanmar, but Valerie Wee is hungry for more.

To that end, the 24-year-old, who finished first in the duilian (unarmed) event alongside partner Vera Tan, is set to become Singapore's first full-time wushu exponent.

The Straits Times understands that she will be offered a two-year contract by the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation, to train full-time in China.

The deal comes under the federation's Adopt An Athlete scheme, which was started in May, and is open to interested and deserving exponents. It will cover Wee's training costs, daily expenses, airfare, as well as a monthly allowance for the Curtin University commerce graduate.

The taiji specialist will most likely train in Fujian, home to current women's taijiquan world champion Zhuang Yingying.

Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation CEO Sng Chan Kiah said: "We had a successful fund-raiser in May, which gave us a chance to fund athletes who want to train full-time."

Mr Liang Eng Hwa, president of the federation and an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, added: "Valerie has a lot of potential and has been performing at a high level consistently. We hope to develop her skills further, in the hope that she can do well in future meets.

"The move also allows us to send her for more competitions, as she won't be tied down by work commitments."

Next year's Asian Games, Asian Wushu Championships, and the 2015 SEA Games are the competitions on the calendar.

Said Wee: "It was not an easy decision, but I was really motivated by the prospect of doing well at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

"I want to finally win a gold medal in my pet event in front of the home crowd."

Wee's only taijiquan medal at the SEA Games came in 2011, when she won a bronze medal. She finished fifth this year.

The taekwondo junior black belt, who picked up wushu when she was 11, added that she will not feel more pressure to perform after going full-time from next month.

"Sponsorship or not, I normally give myself a lot of pressure to perform, because I've already put in a lot of effort during training," said Wee, who finished seventh out of 12 competitors at the 2010 Asian Games.

"I see this as a chance to improve myself, and stretch my potential. I am keen to see how far I can go, and I have a feeling I will amaze myself after my training in Fujian."

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