Women of substance

One works on two wheels, the other commands a horse and the third slices through water with the help of a paddle and a fibre glass shell.

Cyclist Dinah Chan, equestrian rider Janine Khoo and rower Saiyidah Aisyah raced to success at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar last December.

And they remain hungry.

A total of $400,000 was presented on Friday to Team Singapore athletes for their haul of 34 golds at the Games.

They each received $10,000 under the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP) on Friday during an appreciation lunch at the Swissotel Merchant Court Ballroom.

Chan won a bronze in 2009 and 2011, but she did not expect gold last year.

While training for last year's event, the 27-year-old was involved in an accident with a car in September and suffered a minor concussion.

But she overcame the odds in Myanmar to win Singapore's first cycling gold in 16 years in the women's 30km individual cycling time trial.

"After two bronzes, I thought I'd get the silver first, then the gold at the next Games," she joked.

Next stop for Chan is this year's Asian Games, which will be held in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept 19 to 0ct 4.

To qualify, she must finish in the top six at the Asian Cycling Championships in Kazakhstan in May.

"I have been progressing every year since 2010 and I can still do better," she said.

"I've been in the top eight (in Asia) the last few years, so I'm pretty confident of qualifying."

Janine's success is also on the back of a remarkable comeback story.

Two months before last year's SEA Games, the 16-year-old was thrown off her horse during a training session and shattered her cheekbone.

The former Methodist Girls' School student swept aside her fears and got back onto her horse to became the Republic's first equestrian athlete in 30 years to win an individual gold medal at the Games - in show jumping.

"For years, the sport was just a hobby to me. I never trained seriously until after the Youth Olympic Games in 2010," said the teenager.

"Winning the gold and going up on stage to collect the cheque just now was certainly unexpected.

"I plan to keep busy. I'll be competing in a couple of small international events in March - one in Singapore and one in Spain. "I'm not sure if equestrian will be at the Asian Games, but I'll be training towards it anyway."


Aisyah's life has changed since she won the 2,000m lightweight single sculls event.

The Ngee Ann polytechnic development officer was inundated with interview requests and photo-taking for more than an hour on Friday.

Life's been like that this year.

"I'm really surprised; I thought the hype was over since I won two months ago," Aisyah said.

"After the SEA Games, things were a little different - I started getting calls for interviews and photo shoots and people recognised me."

The 25-year-old is also aiming to qualify for the Asian Games and will have to be in the top six in the continental rankings to be on the plane for Incheon.

The three athletes also hope to defend their SEA Games golds on home soil next year.

Aisyah will have an anxious wait, though.

Rowing has been left out of the preliminary list of sports to be staged here as there is no suitable venue for the 2,000m race. She said: "Let's hope things change.

"The (Singapore) Rowing Association is appealing for a shorter 1,000m race, which was staged at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. "A shorter race would suit me just as well."