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Congratulating our Team Singapore athletes

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at The Straits Times Athlete of the Year Awards Ceremony
13 March 2018

Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor, The Straits Times

Mr Lee Meng Tat, Chief Executive Officer, F&N Ltd

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very good afternoon to all of you. I am delighted to join you today at the 10th edition of The Straits Times Athlete of the Year 2017 Awards. I’m also very happy that we have a new category (Young Athlete of the Year) recognising the young athletes of Singapore. I think this is absolutely important as we grow the pipeline of athletes to our High Performance Sports system.

All Nominees Have Done Singapore Proud

2. Let me begin by offering my heartiest congratulations to the nominees of the Athlete of the Year: Cheyenne Goh, Jason Chee, Joseph Schooling, Muhamad Ridhwan and Shayna Ng, as well as the ST Young Athlete of the Year nominees: Justin Hui, Kan Weng Yean, Lincoln Forest Liqht Man and Wang Jinghan.

3. All of you have done us proud with your remarkable achievements last year. You have displayed sporting excellence by winning medals and setting new records at international events. You have shown incredible sportsmanship and resilience by bouncing back from setbacks and injury, and overcoming challenges in life. I’m so glad with what has been said earlier on – (ST Sports Editor Lee) Yulin has rightly put that the recognition should really go for that something extra; there’s something about your achievements that really inspired us, whether it is being our first Winter Olympian, or doing something special for the community. I think these are all important qualities that we look for in our sportsmen and elite sportsmen.

4. There are two qualities that set these gentlemen and ladies apart, and that’s really ambition and belief. Are you hungry enough for that podium finish? How committed are you to your training programme? How strong is your resolve to continually stretch your physical and mental limits?

5. Our nominees are indeed a testament to their ambition and belief. We know that your achievements have not come without sacrifice. I hope you will continue to believe in yourself, harnessing your mental strength and physical abilities to overcome all odds and achieve personal breakthroughs. To the younger athletes – I hope you will use today’s recognition as motivation for even greater achievements in the years to come.

Rallying the Nation Through Sport

6. You, our athletes, are part of a larger Team Singapore, one that has achieved many breakthrough performances in the past few years, from record medal hauls at the KL SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, to historic results at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

7. Your achievements on the world stage, and also importantly your displays of skill, grit and sportsmanship, have inspired the nation to rally together as one people and to celebrate together as Singaporeans. This is the power of sport – its ability to unite a nation and inspire a common spirit.

Athletes Passionately Giving Back to Society

8. Our athletes play highly significant and meaningful roles, both in and outside the sporting arena. Your sporting talent and achievements put you in a unique position as role models; so I urge you – all of you nominated today and all those who are striving to be on the podium – to use this privileged position to inspire others to give back to fellow Singaporeans, to bring positive change to our community. And I’m heartened that our athletes have begun doing so.

9. I’d just like to quote one or two of them. Yip Pin Xiu, the Straits Times Athlete of the Year in 2015, is one such example. Pin Xiu was named as an athlete mentor for last year’s ASEAN Para Games, as well as the chef de mission for the Singapore contingent at the Asian Youth Para Games in Dubai last December, where she was able to use her vast experience from previous major Games to mentor a young team, and to inspire them to greater heights. I remember a quote from her: “I want to give back to society and help the future generation of athletes. Other than showing others what sports can do, I hope to create more awareness that ‘disabled does not mean unabled, and also to inspire others around me.”

10. We also saw that four Team Singapore athletes – Mok Ying Ren (marathon), Shaheed Alam (tennis), Ren-ne Ong (badminton) and Alvinia Ow (rugby sevens) – took part in a public fundraising event just two months ago to help raise $10,000 worth of sporting apparel for youth under SportCares. On behalf of the youth, we thank these athletes for doing their part to really make an impact and improve the lives of others.

11. These are just two examples of how our athletes are using sport as a force for good. I’m happy that many of you are doing likewise, and I encourage you to connect with others in your community, reach out to the less fortunate, and be role models for younger athletes, even as you train hard and strive for sporting success.

Appreciating Our Partners

12. At this juncture, I would like to thank The Straits Times and its sponsors for recognising the achievements of our Team Singapore athletes every year. I am sure that the stories you share with your readers will continue to inspire all Singaporeans to pursue our dreams.

13. Not forgetting the invaluable contributions of the “team around Team Singapore” – from the tireless efforts of coaches and sports specialists to the support from corporate partners, families, care-givers and friends. Thank you for supporting our athletes in their sporting journeys.

Conclusion

14. Finally, my warmest congratulations once again to all award nominees. I wish you the very best as you continue in your journey for sporting excellence. The future looks bright for all of you – and we will continue to cheer you on as One Team Singapore!

15. Thank you and congratulations.

Last Updated: 26 March 2018

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