12 April 2010

Singapore Olympic Pathway Programme (OPP) budget

$1 million each, for Olympic glory@CNA

SINGAPORE: The national women's table tennis team ended 48 years of hurt when they won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In a bid to win Singapore's first individual medal since weightlifter Tan Howe Liang finished second at the Rome Olympics in 1960, the six athletes currently in the Olympic Pathway Programme (OPP) will be funded to the tune of approximately $1 million each.

"With so much money pumped in, we are targeting an individual medal at the 2012 London Games," said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Teo Ser Luck on Thursday.

Mr Teo was speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Youth Sports Development (SYSD) committee visit of the Youth Olympics badminton squad at the Singapore Sports School.

He added: "The amount for the OPP is one of the highest in support of our Olympic athletes. We will build an eco-system and athletes can hire the best coaches, therapists and psychologists, and this will help benefit the teammates and sport."

Paddlers Feng Tianwei, Sun Beibei, Wang Yuegu and Yu Mengyu, swimmer Tao Li and shooter Jasmine Ser joined the OPP last year.

Funding for the programme, which right now is at $6.3 million, is from the Tote Board and MCYS. Selection for the programme is based on criteria such as an athlete's world ranking and results at major international meets.

A steering committee led by Mr Teo oversee the OPP, assisted by three sub-committees in the areas of athlete identification, training and development, and sports medicine and sports science support.

A joint management team comprising a representative from the respective national sports association (NSA), coach and an official from the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) will manage the fund for each athlete. They will monitor his or her progress on a regular basis.

Regular performance reviews will be submitted to the training and development sub-committee.

On Tuesday, the SSC revealed that a total of $50.22 million will be distributed to 63 NSAs for FY2010, a 6.9-per-cent increase from last year.

Last month, the Singapore National Olympic Council revealed that Olympic-bound athletes would received additional support from a new scheme, the Singapore Olympic Foundation, which aims to raise between $5 million and $10 million from companies to support the development of young athletes.

Said Mr Teo: "The OPP will add to the annual funding that SSC gives out, along with the Singapore Olympic Foundation."

The planned Singapore Sports Institute, which will be located at the $1.87-billion Sports Hub at Kallang and is expected to be ready by early 2014 at the latest, is expected to take over the running of the OPP by 2016.

The current Olympic programme follows the success of Project 0812, a $7-million government-led initiative to help Team Singapore attain medal success at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

The women's table tennis team of Li Jiawei, Wang and Feng clearly benefited when they returned home with a silver in 2008.

Swimmer Tao Li, who made a splash at the 2008 Games after finishing fifth in the women's 100m butterfly final, is already gearing up for the battle in 2012.

"This is very good news and it'll definitely help me ... I will grab this opportunity and I hope to help Singapore reap the rewards in London,'' she told MediaCorp.

Also on the radar for the OPP are the athletes from August's Youth Olympic Games, with Mr Teo saying potential talent in sports like swimming, sailing and shooting could be added to the programme in the future.

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