Boxer Keana Ng and ice skater Ryo Ong among recipients of SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship
When she first took up sparring classes in 2022, boxer Keana Ng felt “a little intimidated” after realising that most of the students were boys.
In fact, there were some occasions when she met sparring partners who had trouble controlling their power, despite having no ill intentions.
But the training worked wonders as the 17-year-old had since gone on to participate in numerous competitions with the Singapore Women’s Boxing Development Team.
On Monday, the Eunoia Junior College student was named as one of 99 student-athletes who received the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship under the high performance Under-18 category.
At the presentation ceremony at Temasek Polytechnic, Keana told The Straits Times: “Initially, when I wanted to try sparring, I asked my coach if he thought I was ready.
“He told me to just go for it… He was really encouraging and kept on giving me tips to improve.”
She recalled how nervous she felt when she fought competitively for the first time, adding: “Nonetheless, it was a good experience and subsequently I was able to better mentally prepare myself.”
Her boxing journey has also helped her develop a tougher mindset, especially in overcoming setbacks.
She said: “I tend to get discouraged after losses and doubt myself, and need the support of my peers and coaches to bounce back. It took me a week or so to get out of a negative mindset.”
Keana is the first boxer to receive the scholarship, worth $5,000 under this category, which she called a surprise.
She said: “I’m grateful because I have so many seniors who are good boxers but were deprived of this opportunity in the past. This is a recognition of my past achievements and also propels me to achieve more in future.”
She hopes to encourage more female boxers to take up the sport, and wants to use the scholarship funds to participate in more competitions overseas and eventually achieve her ambition to represent Singapore on the international stage.
Another recipient in the high performance U-18 category is short-track speed skater Ryo Ong, who picked up the sport when he was gifted a pair of rollerblades at the age of five.
The 16-year-old Singapore Sports School student took a gap year in 2022 to train in Busan, South Korea in a bid to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
The move paid off as he became the first Singaporean to qualify for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Gangwon, South Korea from Jan 20 to Feb 2.
But the decision, which he labelled a “dilemma”, was not easy. He said: “If I choose to train while studying, I will have less time to study, and it will be difficult for me during the O levels. I needed to make a sacrifice if I wanted to participate in the YOG.”
A total of 478 recipients in 37 sports from 154 schools received a record $1.25 million at the presentation, where Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong was the guest of honour. The scholarship supports student-athletes who post consistent results in relevant sports competitions.
Since 2011, 4,519 scholarships totalling $10.45 million have been disbursed. Singaporean billionaire businessman Lim had pledged an additional $10 million in 2019 to continue the scholarship until 2030.
Ryo gained plenty of experience during the training stint, saying: “It was a good learning opportunity because before that, I was often lazy and didn’t have motivation. But training made me competitive.”
He hopes that the scholarship can help him fund overseas trips such as another training stint in Korea after his O levels to fully prepare for the YOG.
He added: “This is not an opportunity everyone would get, so I’m excited and ready to try my best.”