TODAY: Relay sprinters get S$2,000 allowance offer

Excellent news for local athletes!

SINGAPORE – The six members of the men’s relay team who plan to stop school and work to train full-time for a year in pursuit of a historic gold at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games – and qualification for the IAAF World Championships – have been given a boost from the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA).

The national body have offered the quartet of Calvin Kang, Muhd Amirudin Jamal, Gary Yeo and Lee Cheng Wei – who won silver at the 2011 SEA Games – a monthly allowance of S$2,000 each if they decide to train full-time in Singapore for a year.

Kang, Amirudin and Yeo are currently in university, while Lee is pursuing his teaching diploma at the National Institute of Education.

Meanwhile, team-mate Muhammad Elfi Mustapa, who is employed by athletics chief Tang Wei Fei as a trainee management executive at Seven Seas Oil Trading, has been told that he will remain on the firm’s payroll while working on a flexi-hour scheme.

Details are still being worked out for Lim Yao Peng, the sixth team member.

Tang told TODAY that the SAA had made a counter offer for the relay runners to train full-time in Singapore after hearing of their plans for a six-month stint in Florida, in the United States.

Noting that fresh university graduates usually earn about S$2,500 a month, the SAA President said: “This is a very big step for them and for us. These are graduates who have done well in sports and academics, and they are prepared to hold back their pursuit of their careers. That should be applauded, and we will help them to pursue their dreams.

“This will also serve as an example for athletes who want to train full-time in future. I’m hoping for them to start by Jan 1 next year.”

The full-time training scheme is expected to cost approximately S$100,000 to S$120,000, and the SAA is looking to the Singapore Sports Institute and corporate sponsors for support.

Yeo said yesterday: “We are happy that the SAA are willing to support us financially for next year and it’s a very good step for us as we have committed ourselves to doing this.”

He added that the sprinters will also continue to look for sponsors to fund their plans for the US stint, which is expected to cost about S$200,000.

Competitive races on the Japanese, Australian and European circuits are also part of the plans for the squad, who set a new national record time of 39.58sec at the Asian Grand Prix in Thailand in May, and who have now been tasked by coach Melvin Tan to go under 39s by next year’s SEA Games.

“The target is for gold next year,” said Tan. “A breakthrough there will be a stepping stone to bigger things for them at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

“I feel this batch of runners has the potential to reach that level. Individually, the target is also for them to beat the national records for the 100m (10.39) and 200m (21.14) eventually.”


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