$500k windfall for Singapore’s medallists at Asean, Asian Para Games
A whopping half a million dollars in cash rewards were handed out on Nov 22 to Singapore’s para-athletes for their medal-winning exploits at the major Games in 2023.
At the Singapore National Paralympic Council’s (SNPC) Athletes Achievement Awards and Appreciation Ceremony at Novotel on Stevens, the biggest winner was swimmer Toh Wei Soong, who bagged a total of $270,000.
His three gold medals at October’s Hangzhou Asian Para Games earned him $255,000, on top of the $15,000 for his hat-trick of titles at the Asean Para Games in Cambodia in June. He had also won an Asiad silver, but the awards are capped at a maximum of three highest achievements for each meet.
Toh, whose grandmother died just a month before the Asiad, said: “I am very grateful to receive the prize money at the Athletes Achievement Awards and I would like to thank my team and family for supporting me this year to do well at the Asian Para Games, especially my late grandmother, who I think would have been just as happy as I am.
“I hope that this level of institutional support is inspirational to anyone who wants to join para-sports, especially younger athletes, because it demonstrates that it is possible to be a para-athlete in Singapore.”
In all, $445,000 was given out for the Hangzhou medallists, and $55,000 for those who stood on the top step of the podium in Cambodia. Both are record amounts, with the previous marks being $250,000 for the 2018 Asiad and $44,000 for the Asean Para Games from July 30 to Aug 6 in 2022 – both of which took place in Indonesia.
The monetary awards were bumped up in July 2022.
For instance, the payout for a gold medal at the Asian Para Games was increased by $50,000 to $85,000 for an individual event. Meanwhile, an individual gold medallist at the Asean Para Games now earns $5,000, up from the $2,000 given out for the 2017 edition.
Archer Nur Syahidah Alim said she was deeply “honoured and humbled” to receive the award. Her Asiad silver in the women’s individual compound had won her a $60,000 incentive.
“This achievement is not just a personal triumph, but a testament to the collective efforts and support of those around me,” said the 38-year-old, who thanked her coach and team at the Singapore Sport Institute.
She was not at the ceremony as she was competing at the Asian Para Archery Championships in Bangkok, where she won a gold on the same day.
Lawn bowler Faridah Salleh, 66, who had also clinched an Asiad silver in Hangzhou – a first for her sport – hopes that by winning the medal incentive, she would inspire other lawn bowlers.
She said: “I really didn’t expect it and furthermore, with this monetary award, it’s good for the other disabled bowlers to train hard so that they will get the same as what I get.”
When asked what she would be doing with the cash reward, she said: “I’ll save the money and maybe treat my family members.”
Toh, who also missed the ceremony as he is in Japan for a training camp, also hopes to save most of his haul.
The National University of Singapore student, 25, added: “I do intend to spend a little bit to thank the people in my life who helped to make it happen.
“But the majority will be for my future, especially for when I retire from full-time swimming.”
More rewards could come in 2024 for Toh, who had met qualifying standards for the Paris Paralympics in all three S7 events he won in Hangzhou – the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m backstroke.
The cash reward for a Paralympic gold medal is $500,000, while a silver and a bronze will earn $300,000 and $150,000 respectively.